The first beauty pageant?
Esther 1: He wanted to show off her beauty to the guests and officials.
Honestly, I don’t know what to do by way of “devotionally blogging” from much of the book of Esther. In spite of the seriousness of the threat to the people of God, portions of the story read like a TV sitcom. Xerxes throws a big drinking party, and after seven days of drunken revelry he gets the bright idea of putting his wife, Queen Vashti, on display for his guests. Vashti, who’s been having a party of her own, is insulted and refuses to come to be looked over by a bunch of drunks. So, instead of impressing all his buddies with what a manly man he is to have such a beautiful wife it appears that in spite of Xerxes ruling a vast kingdom that here at home it’s the hen that’s ruling the roost. Xerxes is so upset that he calls in his “expert advisors.” These “yes men” agree with him that it just won’t do for women to refuse to do their drunken husband’s bidding and suggest that Vashti be banished from ever seeing the king again (this is supposed to be a punishment, right?). Then, to replace her, they’ll have a beauty contest to pick a woman even more beautiful than Vashti to take her place. Xerxes goes along with his (obviously all male) board of advisors. Now, the story is ready for the lovely Jewess Esther to enter the picture. Again, not much devotional material here, but it is an interesting read.
Take Away: What can I say? Sometimes powerful people do dumb things.
Handwriting on the wall
Daniel 5: Mene, Teqel, Peres.
Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar, only makes a brief appearance on the grand stage of Biblical history and in that appearance he’s a drunken loser. In spite of the fact that his father’s story is well known Belshazzar chooses stupid arrogance and practically dares the God his father came to honor to do anything to stop him. So, God Almighty takes up his dare. Even as Belshazzar uses the items taken from the Temple as tableware for a drunken party the hand of God miraculously appears to write the three words of condemnation. As Daniel explains to him, “God has numbered your life and it just doesn’t add up! He’s weighed the value of your life and it doesn’t make weight. He’s decided to divide your kingdom and give it to others.” This unworthy man’s life is about to end in an unworthy way. It’s pitiful isn’t it! Nebuchadnezzar did all the heavy lifting for his son. Not only did he hand over to him the most powerful kingdom on earth, but Nebuchadnezzar went through the years of out-of-his-mind torment to get his head screwed on straight about the God of the Hebrews. All Belshazzar has to do was pick up where his father left off. Instead he delivers stupidity. The Lord expects him to gain from his father’s experience. When he doesn’t do it, it’s “Mene, Teqel, Peres” and a brief appearance on the world stage before going down in flames.
Take Away: While parents have the responsibility of passing on their faith to their children, children have the responsibility of taking up that faith and making it their own.