ADOPTION (Part 2 of 4)

Esther was a Jewish orphan adopted by her uncle before the Jews were carried into Babylonian captivity. Eventually, she became the queen of Persia (Esther 2:7). Her Persian name, Esther, means star, the planet Venus. Hadassah, her Hebrew name, means myrtle, a flower.

Esther is best known as the heroine of the Old Testament book named for her. She was the niece of Mordecai, a servant of Ahasuerus, whose queen she became after Vashti’s banishment for disobedience. Using her influence as queen, Esther managed to avert the persecution of the Jews planned by Haman (Esther 2:7 to Est. 9:32).

FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS

The book of Esther and the book of Ruth are two books in the Bible that bear the names of Hebrew women. While the book of Ruth begins and ends in poverty, the book of Esther begins with all the splendor of the kingdom of Persia. Persia was the wealthiest nation ever to exist in the history of the world, and Nebuchadnezzar had carried the Jews away from Jerusalem to be bondmen in foreign lands. According to Jeremiah, Jerusalem became a land of desolation (Jer. 9:9-11; Jer. 25:10-11). Esther, the heroine, is first seen as a lowly orphan child brought up by an uncle; yet, to the spiritual eye, she rises to a position of power and service to her people because God put her there for His work among the good figs.

When Esther lacked courage to put her life in the balances in order to save her people, Mordecai used the phrase, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14). Yet for all the work given to Esther, if she had not cooperated with God’s plan to do it the way He wanted it to be done, He would have raised up another deliverer from another place and destroyed both her and her house (Est. 4:14).

In addition to Esther’s love and respect for her adoptive uncle, consider a few other important facts associated with this short book:

  • Esther is apparently the only Jewess ever to sit on a foreign throne.
  • Training in respect for her “parents” manifests itself in Esther’s respect for and obedience to Mordecai in spite of her position as queen.
  • We also see that Esther had respect for her husband and the laws of the land even though she was doing her best to find a way to repeal the unfair law that would destroy her people.
  • The accuracy of the accounts of the Persian Empire and its palaces and rules is unsurpassed in secular history.
  • Ahasuerus also, known as Artaxerxes, in secular history for anyone who doubts the authenticity of the account.
  • The Jewish Feast of Purim gains credibility under the Hebrew Old Testament Law because of the explanation found in the book of Esther.
  • “Pur” from which the word Purim comes, means “a lot.” The lot was cast to see which would be the most favorable day for the Jews to stand against their enemies.
  • Even today the Jews respect the “law” given by Esther to remember the Feast of Purim on the fourteenth and fifteenth of March (Est. 9:32).

Did Mordecai tell Esther that she alone could save the Jews (Esther 4:14)? Some men preach that God cannot get his work done unless we do it.  They say, “God has no hands but our hands, no feet but our feet . . . ,” etc. Read (Isa. 55:10-11 and Luke 19:35-40).

ONE LAST EXAMPLE OF ADOPTION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT:

King Saul originally promised to give his elder daughter, Merab, to David, but later he gave Merab to Adriel the Meholathite. After David’s success in battle against the Philistine giant Goliath, King Saul became jealous and therefore connived to destroy David through a marriage to his younger daughter Michal (1 Sam. 14:49). When he invited David to marry Michal, David replied, “I am a poor and lightly esteemed man”, meaning that he was unable to provide a bride price. King Saul offered to accept the foreskins of 100 Philistines for his daughter’s hand in marriage. David immediately killed 200 Philistines, and brought double the number of foreskins to Saul.

Later, we see Michal’s compassionate heart when she chose the welfare of David over the wishes of her father. When Saul’s messengers searched for David in order to kill him, Michal sent them away while saying he was ill and laid up in bed. After Saul’s men left, she let David down through a window and arranged a ‘body’ in his bed as a decoy.

While David hid from King Saul for his life, Saul gave Michal as a wife to Palti, son of Laish. Later, when David became king of Judah and Michal’s brother, Ishbosheth, assumed kingship over the rest of the nation of Israel, David and Ishbosheth made peace, but one condition of peace was that Ishbosheth return his wife Michal. Ishbosheth complied, despite the public protests of Palti. David had indeed paid the bride price twofold for Michal.

After Michal returned to David, she despised him in her heart (1 Chr. 15:29) when he supposedly danced naked (unclothed), while he and the priests were bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:14). Actually, David wore an ephod like the priests wore and thus was not literally naked. David rebuked Michal, and she never bore children until the day she died (2 Sam. 6:20-23). Nevertheless, she was still mother to her sister Merab’s children (2 Samuel 21:8). During that time, Michal had showed great compassion in ‘adopting’ her older sister Merab’s five sons for her. Merab’s husband was Adriel (1 Sam. 18:17-19; 2 Sam 21:8). Nothing is recorded to explain why Merab did not raise her own children, but likely, she had died.

The account has a very sad ending for Michal, when the Lord required David to take vengeance on King Saul’s house because he broke Joshua’s covenant with the Gibeonites by killing many of them. The Gibeonites required the seven of King Saul’s grandchildren be hung.  Thus David was required to take “… the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.”  After that God was entreated for the land and removed the famine (2 Samuel 21:1-4).

RETURNING EVIL FOR GOOD

How does God view those who return evil for good? 

Returning evil for evil is a natural response for most men. God requires a higher standard of his children, commanding us not even to return evil for evil (1 Thess. 5:15).

In fact, we are commanded to return good for evil even to our enemies (Matt. 5:44-45), and in so doing, overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

On the other hand there are those whose hearts are ready to return evil for good. The Lord warns those who return evil for good that “evil shall not depart from his house” (Pro. 17:13).

Another kind of heart feels fully justified in speaking evil of what they do not understand (2 Pet. 2:12). The Jews in Ephesus believed they were fully justified in teaching the Law, but they did not understand either what they said or what they affirmed (1 Tim. 1:7).

Still others speak evil of God’s favored and anointed. David was plagued with this kind of people. “False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things that I knew not. 12 They rewarded me evil for good to the spoiling of my soul” (Psa. 35:11).

David, on the other hand genuinely loved the souls and testified that “…when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting and my prayer returned into my own bosom.” David further testified:

14 I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother. 15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: 16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth (Psa. 35:14-16).

Though we may think that David had an easy and prosperous life in killing Goliath and winning all the battles, nevertheless, he testified that many spoke against him.

For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. 3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. 4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. 5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. 6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. 7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin (Psa. 109:2-7).

David comforted himself by his faith in God. First he describes those who love evil and then declares God’s judgment on those same souls.

Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp rasor, working deceitfully. 3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. 4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. 5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah” (Psa. 52:2-5).

The prophet Isaiah warned those who perverted judgment. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (Isa. 5:20-21).

Is it possible to know the real hearts of these people? Jesus declared:

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (Matt. 7:16-18).

God promises to judge us by our words.

36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:36-37).

He encourages us to turn away from evil to do good and promises: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Pet. 3:10-11).

He warns us that those who hate cover their hatred with good words.

24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;

25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.

26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation. (Proverbs 26:24-26)

Again our Heavenly Father warns us about gossips. Those who flatter us are likely to be the same ones who are speaking perverse things behind our backs.

19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips (Proverbs 20:19).

What should we be doing?

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: 16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).

If we are truly pleasing to God, we will have a tongue that is choice silver. “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth. 21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom” (Pro. 10:20-21).

We should never be like the person whose tongue is like the piercings of a sword.  “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. 19 The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment” (Pro. 12:18-19).

Do we want to have a wholesome tongue?  “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Pro. 15:4).  “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. 24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath” (Pro. 21:23-24). “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile” (1 Pet. 3:10).

–Beth Johnson

Women’s Studies

Muliebral Viewpoint

Articles and Books by Beth Johnson

HELP FOR OUR HUMAN FRAILTIES

In Mark 9:14-29, we read of the boy that Jesus healed, who had a deaf and dumb spirit and who often had fits.  Jesus asked the father whether he believed the boy could be healed and the father cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”

Words could not express that piercing emotion—that deep-seated need for help to overcome his human frailties.

I have often thought of the pitiful concubine in Judges 19 whose frailties caused her to run away from her husband and back to her home.  In her father’s house she had affection and familiar things that made life easier, but the Lord says she was unfaithful.

Did she make vows when her father sold her?

What happened that caused her to run away?

We are not told those things, but we know she was at least “unfaithful” to the covenant her father made with her new owner.

She did not run off with a lover.

She ran home!

Not only did she lack faith, but she also was not submissive.   Judges 19:2 says, “And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father’s house to Bethlehemjudah and was there four whole months.”

Those strong words define the frailties that made up her character.

On the other hand, Sarah was blessed to have a “familiar friend” and a brother who became her husband. The new land and the people were strange to her, but her husband was the solid rock that brought her through it all.

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:9-12).

THIS is yet another reason why one’s life companion must be chosen carefully and must be a disciple of Christ (2 Cor. 6:4). Many young people find someone who is “in the church,” but fail to realize that not all church members are children of God (Matt. 13:38-40).

BIBLE WARDROBES AND THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN’S SPIRITUAL CLOTHING Lesson 2: OLD CLOTHES AND MOLDY BREAD

Lesson 2: OLD CLOTHES AND MOLDY BREAD

During the Israelite conquest of Canaan, Gibeonite ambassadors used falsehood and deception to lead Joshua and the elders of Israel to believe that they came from a distant region, when in fact they lived in the immediate vicinity of Canaan. In order to save themselves from extinction by the armies of Israel, the Gibeonites craftily deceived Joshua and the leaders of Israelites into agreeing to establish a treaty to let them live (Josh. 9:13-16). By using old clothes and moldy bread, the ambassadors misrepresented the distance they had traveled from their habitat (Josh. 9:3-6). Without asking counsel of the Lord and following their own judgment, the leaders of Israel made a treaty with them. Assuming these men were telling the truth about where they lived, they put confidence in the Gibeonites‟ claim, partook of their victuals, made an alliance with them and ultimately found themselves betrayed (Josh. 9:13-15).

Kirjath-Jearim, also called Baalah, was one of the four cities of the Gibeonites. The inhabitants of Kirjath-Jearim were not struck down on account of the covenant made, but they were put under servitude (Joshua 9:17 with 9:3-27). Joshua and the elders of Israel behaved magnanimously in their response to the
‟ deception, and rather than kill them, they let them become servants to hew wood and draw water for the house of the Lord forever (Josh. 9:22-27).

The Gibeonites seem to have had a law or a government somewhat like the Israelites had under the Mosaic Law (Josh. 9:11). This would indicate the people had some measure of respect for the Lord. Six kings made war upon the Gibeonites and were defeated and killed. Notice Joshua at Gibeon (Josh. 10). Regarding the kings who struck them, the account tells that the “…the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they (the six kings and their armies) died. “They were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”

Several other things, both good and bad, may be known about the Gibeonite nation. One is that the tribe of Benjamin did not avenge the crime of the Gibeonites against the Levite’s concubine, and a war followed (Judg. 19). Ismaiah was a Gibeonite who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12:4) and was one of David’s mighty men. King Saul killed the Gibeonites; a crime avenged by the death of seven of his sons (2 Sam. 21:1-9). As a just retribution for Saul’s crime, it was King David who consigned seven sons of Saul to the Gibeonites to be killed to atone for Saul’s persecution of them (2 Sam. 21:1-14). Mephibosheth was a son of Saul by Rizpah, whom David did not surrender to be killed (2 Sam. 21:8-9). Hananiah was a Gibeonite prophet who uttered false prophecies in the temple during the reign of Zedekiah (Jer. 28). Pay particular attention to Hananiah’s sin and the resulting punishment by God in verses 10-16. Melatiah was a Gibeonite who assisted in repairing the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:7).

“And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy” (Joshua 9:3-5).

The Gibeonites figure notably throughout the Israelite history with some good and some evil results. The Shechemites and Gibeonites were Hivite families of Genesis 34:2Josh. 9:1711:19). Although they had some respectable men in their nation, their presence was ever a reminder of the error made in allowing them to dwell among them.

QUESTIONS:

1.   As a foundation for this study, discuss two commands that had been given to the Israelites to govern such decisions:

·      Utterly destroy the inhabitants of Canaan (Deut. 7:1-5).

·      Do not swear falsely [i.e. keep your vows] (Lev. 19:12).

2.   What deceit did the Gibeonites use to deceive Joshua and the Children of Israel (Josh. 9:3-5)? Why?

3.   How were they received by the princes of Israel (Josh. 9:14-19)?

4.   Give two reasons why there was a conflict between the princes of the congregation and the people. (Josh. 9:14-15)?

5.   It is obvious from reading the account that the Gibeonites lied and purposefully deceived the leaders of Israel. How could Joshua and the elders have known what to do (Deut. 7:1-5)?

6.   Once the Israelites realized they had been deceived into disobeying the command of God, what other dilemma did they face (Josh. 9:19)? Why could they not go back on their word and break the covenant (Lev. 19:12)?

RESEARCH QUESTION:

7.   Under the Mosaic Law, all vows, covenants, leagues, treaties and promises were viewed as binding. Search the following scriptures to see just how important these were before God: Leviticus 19:12Deut. 23:22Deut. 23:21-23Num. 30:1-2Num. 30:12-14Num. 30:15Prov. 20:25Eccl. 5:1-6Gal. 3:15 and Prov. 19:2.

8.   Why was Joshua forced to make peace with the Gibeonites (Deut. 20:10-18)?

9.   Who else worked wilily to save himself and his nation (1 Kings 20:29-37)? To get the whole context, read all of 1 Kings, chapter 20.

10.      What Gentile lady worked wilily to secure safety from being destroyed by the Israelite armies (Josh 2:9-14)?

11.      Did any city or nation make peace with the children of Israel (Josh. 11:19)?

12.      How do we know that God was not pleased with what King Saul did against the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:1-9)? What did King David do to make peace with them?

13.      How does Jeremiah 18:7-8 apply to this situation?

14.      Using the account in 1 Kings 13:7-19, tell how the young prophet should have reacted to the lie told him by the old prophet. What appears to have caused him to fail the test to be faithful?

15.      What special things did God provide under the Law of Moses to help the Israelite leaders to make righteous judgments (Exod. 28:30Num. 27:211 Sam. 23:9-121 Sam. 30:7-82 Sam. 2:12 Sam. 5:19).

16.      Discuss what kinds of decisions they made in each case. Could Joshua have used these methods?

17.      How did the sincere people of Israel seek to gain God’s favor and obtain a favorable answer to their needs (Ezra 8:21)?

18.      What transgression did King Saul commit against the Lord and why did he die (1 Chr. 10:13-14)? Was God happy when His rebellious children did not ask counsel of the Him (Isa. 30:1-2)? What was their sin?

19.      Today, in the NT, how are covenant breakers described (Rom. 1:28-32)? How will obeying James 1:19 help us to avoid this sin?

20.      What is Jesus’ admonition (Matt. 5:33-37)?

21.      What other principles can be used to govern our decisions (Prov. 3:5-62027Hosea 4:6)?

22.      Why did Paul, with the apostles and elders, ask counsel of the Lord (Acts 15:1-213-29)?

23.      What must we remember as we make decisions about things people teach in religion (Gal. 1:8-91 Cor. 2:4-5Phil. 4:6 and Eph 6:18)?

24.      Consider the command not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers or to make friends with them (2 Cor. 6:141 Cor. 15:33). See also: 1 Kings 11 for examples of how Solomon violated this principle. If we make a covenant of marriage with one who has deceived us, do we still have to honor our vows?

25.      **What if someone deceives us? How can we know what we should do? Remember the clearly stated problem in Joshua 9:14. “…asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.” We need to be very careful not to be deceived, by knowing well and seeking out the counsel of the Lord; otherwise we may have to bear some unpleasant consequences.

–Beth Johnson

BIBLE WARDROBES AND THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN’S SPIRITUAL CLOTHING – Lesson 1 THE ABANDONED COAT

“And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:” (Gen. 39:11-14).

When Potiphar’s wife took hold of Joseph to force him to lie with her, he merely abandoned his cloak and ran.  It was only right that he should.  Potiphar’s wife belonged to Potiphar and not to Joseph, so when she approached him, it was nothing short of enticing him to commit adultery.  Falling to that temptation would not only have been a breach of faithfulness against Potiphar but against the God of Heaven Himself.  Notice specifically what Joseph says:  There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Gen. 39:9).

Like the harlot in Proverbs 7:10, Potiphar’s wife had laid a trap for Joseph and thought to take him by her trickery.  As he went about serving her husband every day, his youth and vigor must have appealed to her, and it appears she had arranged for the other servants in the house leave, in order to make his temptation to sin even greater.  Perhaps she painted herself like Jezebel or she may even have worn lewd clothing for appeal.  We can assume that she did not have the reputation for being a common harlot, because she was a married woman of some status.  However, we see she was subtle of heart, in stark contrast to the purity of heart and modesty, which becomes women professing godliness (1 Tim. 2:10).

Notice how the temptation to sin came to Joseph.  It was not presented to him as a hideous, fire-breathing monster, but as something soft and enticing—something perhaps that he might do and nobody would ever know.  The Devil would never win any battles for our souls if he made sin look like what it really is.  Our Heavenly Father describes the Devil as going about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8), but the ones who are tempted usually do not see him like that because he crouches secretly and pounces suddenly as the deed is done.  What the unwary person may see is Satan disguised as an angel of light, thus increasing the temptation (2 Cor. 11:14-15).

God offers many, many alternatives to sin.  One method of resisting temptation is to flee.  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).  We are told to “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).  Again, we are told to “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).  Finally, we know that we are to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

Joseph left his cloak and ran.  Viewing his action from the eyes of the world, that may have seemed cowardly, but in the eyes of God he behaved admirably.  Joseph was righteous and suffered for it (1 Pet. 2:20), but he was blessed by God for his faithfulness.

 

QUESTIONS:

  1. Joseph was the first child of ________ ( 22:24) and his father’s ____________ (adjective) son (Gen. 37:31).
  2. Approximately how old was Joseph when his brothers sold him into Egyptian bondage?
  3. Who bought him first?
  4. How did he happen to become a servant to Potiphar?
  5. Who was Potiphar? What was his position under King Pharaoh?
  6. Why would being the most trusted servant in his household be such a good position?
  7. What happened to Joseph when he refused to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife?
  8. How did she convince her husband that he had tried to molest her?
  9. After Joseph was sent to prison, what happened to him there?

RESEARCH QUESTION:

  1. We see by Joseph’s example that we may flee temptation; however, there are other ways to overcome. Give as many ways as you can find in scripture that show us how to win the battle against sin. You might consider these examples to begin your study: Psalm 1:1—not even walking, standing or sitting near wrong or perhaps Psalm 119:11—putting the word in our hearts as protection.  Suggested search words might include: temptation, sin not, sin against, overcome, stand, fight (note the battle language).  These are only a few of many ideas to help your research.