Rise Up & Build! (HK)
Nehemiah 2: 11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days. 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode. 13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. 15 So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work. 17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.
When the book of Esther begins it has been over 90 years since Jerusalem fell to the hands of the Babylonians. God could no longer ignore their idol worship, refusal to repent, ignoring the prophets, lifestyle of sin and purposeful rebellion. With the fall of the Babylonians (predicted by Danie – chapter 2), Persia is now the world Empire. Much has changed, but the Jews were still facing hardship in a foreign land.
The book Esther begins soon after Ezra and Nehemiah. Some of God’s people have returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls, re-populate the city and restore the Temple. Other Jews chose to remain in settlements throughout the Persian Empire even though they were still persecuted by a handful of people.
One of the major characters in this story is King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I). History tells us that he is the 5th king of the Persian Empire. The book also tells us that the king is in the 3rd year of his reign (486 BC) after the death of his father King Darius. He is a man focused on power and money. He had a violent temper and swift to act against opposition.
Another character in the book of Esther is Vashti. She is the Queen of Persia and loved by the king. It is apparent in the first chapter that she is a woman of character and conviction, but she only appears in the opening scene. She refuses the king’s command to flaunt herself and is quickly deposed.
The heroes of the book are Mordecai and Hadassah (Esther). Mordecai is a Jewish man whose family was exiled when Jerusalem fell. He is a relative (cousin or uncle) of Hadassah and has been raising her ever since her parents died. He is a man of integrity and faith. Hadassah (later called Queen Esther) was an orphan girl who had both inner and outer beauty. She will save her people from their enemies.
The villain in the story is Haman. He will work his way to the second in command of Persian Empire. He is consumed by selfish pride and full of hatred. He will vilify the Jews, persecute Haman, and manipulate the king.
This story has the makings of a great Hollywood film, but the story is absolutely true! This is no work of fiction. And, the message of the book transcends culture or politics. We need people like Mordecai and Hadassah today. You have been placed here for such a time as this! Be a blessing to others.