Worshiping in the Harem

Esther was a victim.

She was a youngster seen without wisdom, experience, or power.

She was an orphan. Her parents had perished, and now she lived with an elderly uncle.

She was a woman. In her culture, a female was something to be owned, displayed, traded, used, abused, and discarded.

She was an exile. Esther was an alien in foreign land, and she had almost no rights.

She was a kidnapped sex-slave. Due to the pride of a filthy king, she found herself ripped from her adopted home, transported to another city, forced into the dictator’s harem, and prettied up before being ushered into the lusty man’s quarters.

She was a Jew who hid her true ethnicity. For in the eyes of her Gentile neighbors, her people were a despicable ethnic community. The land would be better off without them.

She was persecuted by royal edict. By the king’s decree, Esther and her Hebrew countrymen were targeted to be destroyed, killed, annihilated, and plundered.

Yes, this was a woman who has been greatly harmed by most of the men in her life. She had been let down by parents, priests, elders, and kings. In addition, she was one who had suffered tremendously under the sovereign hand of her all-powerful and all-seeing God. Therefore, from a worldly point of view, she deserved the right to be bitter, be depressed, walk in fear, distrust her neighbors, distrust her deity, and focus on self-preservation and self-promotion. From a secular point of view, she had suffered plenty. She now deserved to focus on herself for a while.

And this she almost did.

Esther was a victor.

However, due to the faithful pastoring of Uncle Mordecai, the fervent prayers of her people, and the fantastic purging of the Holy Spirit, Esther proved to bloom, worship, and serve in the place where she has been planted. She refused to squander her experiences in the home of Mordecai, the harem of Hagai, or the palace of Xerxes. When all was said and done, Esther used her beauty, her poise, her skills, her relationships, her position, her femininity, and her wisdom. As a called and equipped woman in God’s congregation, she ministered well, played the role of a female-mediator, and won the day. Yes, because God equipped, God positioned, a godly uncle pastored, a group of godly friends prayed, God’s Spirit moved, and a godly lady went to work, God’s people were saved, God’s people rejoiced, God’s enemies were weakened, God’s name was elevated, and a godly man (Mordecai) was honored and elevated. Esther proved to be a great example of a suffering woman who bloomed, worshiped, and served in the place where she has been planted — even when it was a lusty king’s harem.

What about you and me?

Are we convinced our God has forsaken us, our best days are behind us, and life is not worth living? Are we wallowing in bitterness? Have we succumbed to depression? Are we committed to self-promotion for the rest of our days?

Oh suffering friends, what we need is our Good Father giving us godly counsel and a good dose of his Holy Spirit. We need to be reinvigorated from the inside-out. We need a fresh dose of the Gospel of God’s grace so that we can see ourselves as equipped and positioned “for such a time as this.” Then, freshly understanding our Father’s mysterious but radical affection, we can then bloom, worship, and serve in the place we have been planted. Troubled friends, do not believe the press of Satan. God has shown us his tendency to use abused men like:

  • Joseph in prison
  • Moses in the dessert
  • David in the cave
  • Mordecai in the courtyard
  • Daniel in the lion’s den

He also shown us his pattern of tremendously utilizing abused women like:

  • Sara in the arms of Pharaoh
  • Tamar in the arms of Judah and his sons
  • Bathsheba in the arms of David
  • Esther in the arms of Xerxes
  • Rahab and Mary Magdalene in the abusive arms of many

Perhaps the best example given us is that of the Man of Sorrows. For in the Gospel, we see how the Good Father tremendously used and uses his abused son. Because Jesus worshiped on the cross, we can worship in the harem, before one day worshiping in paradise.



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