Beauty and the Beast

Series: More Than Hips, Lips and Fingertips!

Week March 24 – 30, 2021

AIM:  This lesson reminds us that in a world of money, sex, power and applause, the foundation of true greatness is moral integrity.  But when you run against the “kings” of our world, when you stand for what is right, you may find yourself on the outside looking in!  When you stand for right it can cost you dearly!  After this lesson we must realize that women, and men,  are to stand for what’s right!

INTRODUCTION:

Every woman, no matter the size, age or color knows what it is to be discriminated against because of her gender.  Women, through the years, have been looked upon as property to be treated and used at men’s discretion.  If a woman advanced to a position of worth it was assumed that she had to “sleep” with someone to achieve her position.  And, truthfully, many women had to!  

Some women were “trophy” wives.  A trophy wife is a wife who is regarded as a status symbol for the husband. The term is often used in a derogatory or disparaging way, implying that the wife in question has little personal merit besides her physical attractiveness, does very little of substance beyond remaining attractive. 

In the book of Esther, Queen Vashti was expected to behave in a way contrary to conscience and she refused the king’s command.  The king perhaps saw her as a “trophy” wife but she showed him otherwise!  Her refusal was the right decision to make, but it cost her dearly.   Living upright will not always gain us the favor of the world!  Although God is never once mentioned in the book of Esther, His fingerprints are all over the story. In fact, in many ways, He’s the main character.  In Esther, we will learn that God is at work in spite of appearances. Often it is behind the scenes, quietly weaving circumstances together in order to bring about His will for our good and His glory.

BACKGROUND:

The book of Esther begins with an incredible feast.  We peek into the kitchen and dining room of one of the greatest empires.  The Bible tells us that for a full 180 days the king displayed the vast wealth and splendor of his kingdom.  Six months of free food, drinks and entertainment!  Wow!  That was a long time!  If that wasn’t enough, he turns around and host an extra-special banquet at the end of this time and it lasted for seven days! 

No doubt everything was just right and a sight to behold!  The lighting, decorations, the food. . .the military and all the VIP’s were there!  And they drank from golden goblets!

You have heard the saying “house of cards.”  Many people have built elaborate card houses.  The challenge is in building the biggest card house!  I read that the largest house of cards was 25 feet high!  In building the house you have to balance the cards just right.  Only gravity and balance holds it all together.  Once you have the foundation, you can gingerly add more cards here and there, each dependent upon the support of the other.  You lay layers of card upon card to create an elaborate but fragile house of cards.  The slightest movement can send the whole thing crumbling.

Everything about King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) is irresponsible layering of card upon card to create an elaborate but fragile “house of cards.”  But. . . someone is about to shake the table and bring down this “house of cards.”

It’s the last night of the party.  The king is drunk and in his intoxicated state he decides to show off one more of his greatest prizes.  He calls for Queen Vashti to come with her royal crown “in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful.” Notice the word “display.”  No doubt, it is used to have her parade, perhaps scantily dressed or not dressed at all, before those who would have nothing in mind but lust.  But Vashti KNOWS that she is more than hips, lips and fingertips!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Esther 1:1-21 (NIV)

1     This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush:

2     At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa,

3     and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.

4     For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty.

5     When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa.

6     The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones.

7     Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality.

8     By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.

The beast

  1. Impressive
  2. His position
  3. Mighty king
  4. Ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush
  5. His power
  6. His privileges
  1. Image
  2. Prestige – image is everything  
  3. Power – control freak 
  4. Pride – do not challenge my power 
  5. Problem – can’t control his temper
  1. Intoxicated
  2. By his achievements
  3. By his accomplishments
  4. By alcohol

The Destructive Nature of Drunkenness

Brad Paisley has a song called “Alcohol” that in the first person:

I can make anybody pretty

I can make you believe any lie.

I can make you pick a fight

with somebody twice your size.

Well, I’ve been known to cause a few breakups,

And I’ve been known to cause a few births

I can make you new friends

or get you fired from work.

I’ve influenced kings and world leaders

I helped Hemingway write like he did

And I’ll bet you a drink or two that I can make you

Put that lampshade on your head

Look at what alcohol does to this “mighty” king and his kingdom. . .

9     Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.

10   On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him. . .

11   to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at.

12   But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

13   Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times

14   and were closest to the king. . .the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.

15   “According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”

16   Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes.

17   For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’

18   This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.

19   “Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she.

20   Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”

21   The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed.

THE BEAUTY

  1. The Command

As the drunken party comes to a close, Xerxes makes a controversial and undesirable request.

  1. The Setting:
  2. The scripture reveals that Xerxes and those around him were not in a proper frame of mind.
  3. Their state of existence had been altered by the consumption of alcohol.
  4. We must also remember that this was not just one night of casual drinking.
  5. The king and those around him had been partying together for six months!
  6. The Summons:
  7. To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the royal crown, to show the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.
  8. The drunken state of Xerxes caused him to make an unusual and degrading request.
  9. He summoned his wife, Queen Vashti, to come before the princes so they might look upon her beauty.
  10. He desired her to appear unclothed before a gathering of drunken men!
  11. Their society did not approve of such behavior, and yet Xerxes was determined to impress his guests at the expense of his wife’s dignity!
  12. The Scandal:
  13. The Queen refused to come at the king’s command.
  14. The king was “hot” because the Bible says his anger burned in him!
  1. The Courage
  2. The Bible doesn’t say much about Vashti but we must admire her because she was willing to put. . .
  3. Principles over a palace
  4. Character over a crown
  5. Decency over debauchery
  6. Pride over position
  7. Displacement over dishonor
  8. When the king should have been ashamed and remorseful for such a sinful and demeaning request, he wasn’t.
  9. Instead, he was angered at the queen for refusing his request.
  10. He blamed her for the situation instead of seeing the iniquity within his own heart!
  11. The Challenge

What shall we do with Queen Vashti, according to law, because she has not obeyed the commandment of the king

  1. Although he knew it was an improper command, the king was determined to have his way.
  2. He had to “save face” in front of those he sought to impress.
  3. The Counsel
  4. The Appeal:
  5. seeking to appeal to the king and gain his approval, Memukan spoke for the counselors.
  6. He portrayed the actions of Vashti as detrimental to the entire kingdom.
  7. This was not an act of rebellion against the king alone.  He declared that Vashti’s behavior would negatively impact all the princes and the entire kingdom!
  8. Her behavior would encourage rebellion and disobedience throughout the provinces.  Nothing was mentioned about the absurdity of the request. 
  9. The blame was laid solely on Vashti!
  10. The Assertion:
  11. Memukan portrayed this as an issue that must be dealt with quickly.  He wanted the king to believe such rebellion must be sternly punished. 
  12. If this was not addressed, and Vashti was not removed from the throne as queen, all the women in the provinces would be encouraged to rebel against their husbands!
  13. The Agreement:
  14. Xerxes agreed with the counselors and sent a decree throughout all the provinces that commanded all men to bear rule in their homes!

Conclusion: As we will see, God, in His sovereignty, would use this situation for the good of His people.  God is in control in America and He will work things out for the good of His people! 

PRAYER PRINCIPLE:                     Thank God for the opportunity to be a blessing or a lesson in the lives of His people.

SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE:       Encourage and pray for those who are called to take a stand for society’s least, lost and left-out.

EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE:            Share the Good News that Christ took a stand for us by dying on the cross so that we could take a stand for Him.

STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE:            Our giving allows us to further the cause of bringing the Kingdom on Earth to fruition.

DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE:            Ofttimes we don’t feel worthy or capable of the tasks that have been placed before us; realize with God in control, all things are possible.

NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: Remembering Jesus

SERIES:          Remember

DAILY BIBLE READINGS:

Monday: Raised from the Dead – Acts 3:11-16

Tuesday: Descended from David – Romans 1:1-7

Wednesday: Our Savior – Titus 3:1-7

Thursday: Remembering Jesus’ Sacrifice – Matthew 26:17-30

Friday: Proclaiming the Lord’s Death – 1 Corinthians 11:23-33

Saturday: Now Is the Day of Salvation – 2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Sunday: Salvation in Christ Jesus – 2 Timothy 2:8-15

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