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4 Women Who Changed the World

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Esther the Unprotected
March 9, 2014

Michelle Knight
Amanda Berry
Gina DeJesus

On Feb 24th Governor John Kasich of Ohio honored them with the courage award:

“It is a story of three women who found an inner strength and a courage that brought them through and sustained them. No one rescued them, they rescued themselves—first by staying strong and by sticking together, and then by literally breaking out into freedom.”
The Governor called them “three extraordinary women, who despite having the worst in this world thrown at them, rose above it and emerged not as victims, but as victors.”
  
Last week we talked about Leah the unloved. Leah bore the burden of being common, of being unlovely and thus feeling unloved. 
But did you know beauty can be just as big a burden?

It’s true; women who are highly attractive by society’s standards often have deep resentment that everyone relates to them solely on their outward appearance.
They are hated by some and adored by others and usually it has nothing to do with who they actually are!

This week we are focused on Esther the Unprotected; an incredibly beautiful woman whose life was put at risk because of the burden of her stunning beauty.
 
Esther’s story is intertwined with another stunningly beautiful woman named Queen Vashti.

Esther 1:1 – this was a powerful man over a huge region of the world. He was over 127 provinces; 127 countries. Words to describe Ahasuerus are words like; powerful, dominate, controling.

And there’s something intoxicating about power that makes us want to display it and then exhert it over others or it’s not nearly as rewarding.

Esther 1:2-4 – at the end of 6 months of demonstrating his power the king threw a 7 day drinking party, and in his drunken condition an idea popped into his head.

Esther 1:10-11 – Vashti was eye candy! She was a trophy to display the power of King Ahasuerus. She had NO POWER at all. 

In those days kings had harems with hundreds of beautiful women at their disposal. You might think of it as a private brothel. Out of all of them one was chosen to be the queen.

Queen Vashti was little more than a sex trafficked slave . Why do I say that, because of the definition of slavery?
 
(Screen) When one person completely controls another person using violence or the threat of to maintain control, exploits them and gives no opportunity to walk away; that is the very definition of slavery.

If there’s any group on the face of the earth that should speak to the issue of domination and slavery, it ought to be the Church of Jesus Christ.

They estimate 28-30 million people worldwide are trafficked and a large portion of them are involved in the sex industry through prostitution, pornography and strip clubs.

Most of them are women or young girls. To me it displays the vulnerability of women in our culture, and THUS it has always been!

And into this world of vulnerability and risk Esther was born. 

Esther’s story will forever be linked to Queen Vashti’s – Esther 1:12.

Tell the outcome of Vashti’s refusal….big meeting called….worried men.

Throughout history women have been dominated and controlled instead of being valued and empowered.

I’m amazed at how fearful the men were of one woman who dared to refuse the demands of this man of power and position – Esther 1:17-18.

In other words we have to maintain control. We cannot allow them to find their voice or we lose our power over them. 

I read a great quote this week; (Screen) In a society where women are undervalued or not valued at all, women are at greater risk of being abused and trafficked, and coerced into sex slavery.

And men this is why when we view pornography we are actually perpetuating the domination and control of societies most unprotected and vulnerable people.

(Screen) “It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name-modern slavery.” 

That was said by President Barack Obama, and he’s 100% right!

So with Queen Vashti banished from office now the search for her replacement begins.

Esther 2:1-2 – it wouldn’t do for the impure King to have anyone who was impure! (Double standard)

Esther 2:3-4 – as we read this we may think let the beauty pageant begin!

Listen, sometimes we read these biblical stories and we put them into our contemporary culture. This was no American Idol. This was no beauty pageant!

This was nothing less than glorified sex trafficking! 127 provinces had to give their most beautiful daughters to the will and wishes of the king. If only 10 were chosen from each province that’s 1270 women!
Esther had no choice in this matter
Esther was powerless to resist
This could not have been on her wish list of how to spend her life

Can you imagine how UNPROTECTED, UNVALUED and VULNERABLE she must have felt?

This could not possibly have felt like an honor. This meant a complete loss of freedom, a fearful loss of identity, and certain despair from a loss of purpose.

And yet, in the midst of this loss of control Esther never lost faith in God. In the midst of this fearful season Esther knew that somehow, someway, God was still in control of her life.

Esther had been vulnerable for much of her formative years – Est 2:7.

Not only was Esther vulnerable because of her beauty and looks, but she was also vulnerable because of her nationality and race – Esther 2:10.

As a woman Esther was UNDER. From the standpoint of her ethnicity Esther was UNDER.

That’s a tremendous amount of pressure to live UNDER, but Esther trusted in God and knew that if He had provided a covering through her cousin Mordecai, God wouldn’t abandon her now.

But her guardian Mordecai didn’t seem quite as sure – Esther 2:11.

This situation had to have been completely terrifying to Mordecai. 

He knew the score. He knew what was at stake and what would be asked of Esther.

And then it took three to four years before Esther was brought before the king.

Esther 2:16-17 – this was the best possible scenario in a difficult situation. God was at work in spite of the personal challenges that Esther was facing.

What Esther lacked in power she made up in influence.

Her story reminds me somewhat of the O.T. Joseph. 
Unprotected – sold as a slave by his brothers taken to a foreign country (Every year more than 800,000 women are snatched and taken to other countries and sold as sex slaves)
He was imprisoned falsely for refusing sex!
In prison he maintained his faith in God and was shown favor in a dis-favorable environment
God raised him up to a high position, but he never forgot he was Jewish: he never forgot he was still vulnerable and he trusted in God
Joseph had incredible influence through the favor of God

The lesson for all of us is this; no matter how vulnerable and powerless we may feel, if we’ll trust in God He will accomplish His good pleasure in and through us in due season.

Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep walking with God.

Don’t allow the domination and control of others to determine our destiny. God will use us for His glory if we will trust in Him throughout the course of our lifetime.

A wicked and evil man rose up to a position of great power and control, his name was Haman. Haman had a deep hatred for Mordecai and sought to punish not only him, but the entire race of the Jews.

He launched a plan to completely annihilate God’s people, the Jews. 

Notice how deceitfully Haman framed the conversation with the King. 

Esther 3:8-9 “There is a certain people scattered and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from all other peoples, and they do not keep the king’s laws. Therefore it is not fitting for the king to let them remain. 9 If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that they be destroyed.”

Haman used the age-old tactic of fear towards those who are ‘other than us’. They’re not like us! They’re different! They’re not to be trusted.

And here’s what I have come to understand. If you dehumanize a group of people you can easily justify dominating and even destroying them.

God’s people were vulnerable and unprotected and Mordecai saw the picture for what it was. 

He realized that God had placed Esther in a position of influence but she would have to take a step of faith and exert herself into the situation.

Esther knew what was at stake. She could not merely approach the king. 

She hadn’t even seen the King in over 30 days. It could cost Esther her life.

Esther 4:13-16

When Esther felt life was out of control she leaned into God. 

Esther found God to be faithful. She found God trustworthy even when those around her were not.

Psalms 32:7 “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”

PRAYER

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About Ron Bontrager

Lead Pastor of Lakeview Church in Indianapolis.

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