1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Esther is a conflicting book for me. While at some parts of my life it has meant a great deal to me, I have also heard some confusing and challenging interpretations of the book. I am inclined to believe the good things it has taught me are not invalid, but I also want to be wary of how I receive this book of the Bible. And I am cautious in even talking about the book, so many theologians and Biblical scholars don't even attempt to address the book of Esther and I want to take a lesson from them in being cautious as well.
Hadassah is Esther's Hebrew name and I'm going to call her that.
God uses sinful and even rebellious people in the Bible and Hadassah is no exception. While I don't feel confident enough to judge what makes Hadassah a sinful person besides the fact that she's a human being so it's safe to say that's true...here are some red flags I see and red flags that have been pointed out to me.
She goes by her Persian name rather than her Hebrew name. She hides her faith and nationality. She wins the King's favor...by pleasing him when she spends the night in the palace. And by the way, the king is pretty much objectively not a very gracious or wise man. He is egotistical and frivolous, he is cold and possessive with his wife, and he is flippant as a ruler, handing over his seal to approve a genocide in his kingdom.
These are all red flags I see, but they will not necessarily discount what good messages I think this book will teach us. Some theologians might even disagree that the book should be in the Bible, but it is and so on this reading the Bible in a year project I am reading it and drawing what I can from it. But I think those lessons are yet to come in this book.
But one thing I see from the collective reading today is that even as I am cautiously pointing out the red flags I see in Esther...we need to be people who notice red flags, prayerfully consider them, and call them out! Sin is in the church and we need to call it out. If we see patterns of behavior that are displeasing to God we need to say something, just as Paul does to the Corinthians. We need to say it in love, but also we need to recognize that to call our brother's and sister's on to holier living is the most loving thing we can do...sin leads to destruction. We cannot condone sinful living if we are to love one another.