More. . .
More than Sunday School stories. . .
More than someones opinion. . .
Way more than pompous moralizing. . .
Gods words are life!
Speaking of Sunday School stories. I remember reading a few years ago in the Old Testament book of Esther. What I was actually doing was beginning a study on the life of Esther as revealed in the Scripture. I was still a pastor at this time and had just finished a study on Ruth, another woman in the Bible with a book in the OT bearing her name. I was focusing on examples of godly women. Ruth went so well, I thought I would go on to Esther.
Wow! What a difference not too far into my study. Now please note that I had read through the entire book of Esther at least once a year for several years as I read through the Bible. Count in forty years of Sunday School stories, messages, various discussions, one lady we invited to our church did an Esther monologue complete with costume.
Do you know what first wowed me. After reading about and being taught concerning the “beauty pageant” that Esther won to become queen, I for the first time realized what this “beauty pageant” really was.
Esther 2:12-14 ESV Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women– (13) when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. (14) In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.
How could I have missed this? I’m sorry but we all know what goes on in the king’s harem. To this day I have never heard anyone else broach this subject. I did consult the commentary of a well-known Baptist speaker, J. Vernon McGee, and he came to the same conclusion. In fact it is possible that Esther did not know God at all, except as help from above in a time of crisis. Because you pray or ask God for help does not make you a believer.
One of the main lessons in Esther is God’s sovereign, providential care of his people. He saved the Jews through a Gentile King and his Jewish wife who slept with him as a participant in a contest for the position of queen.
Mordecai, who we have made into a godly man in our Sunday School stories, was her uncle and guardian and she entered the “contest” on his watch.
Making the Bible “family friendly”
In fashioning our Sunday School story, making Esther and Mordecai followers of God, and cleaning up the dirty little secret about the beauty pageant, we have changed what God has said.
So what happens when we change what God said!
When we change what God said, whether by liberal scholarship or by editing the story for Sunday School or personal opinion or convenience, whatever our flimsy excuse, we change what God intended to communicate. Can you hear me now? We as very flawed human beings decide, no matter our good intentions and motivations, we decide to change God’s intent for the words he breathed to us.
And we do it all in the name of God. Ain’t we something.