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31: "Thou Art Come … for Such a Time as This" (Esther)

Fri Jul 22 16:08:35 EDT 2022
Episode 30

Here’s a fun fact: did you know that the name Esther means star in Persian? And when you consider Esther’s story in the Old Testament, there’s obviously no coincidence that one of the greatest biblical heroines was given that name. In fact, as we study this incredible book of scripture this week, we’re going to see how brightly Esther shined in the midst of terrible adversity. Not only was she incredibly brave even when faced with death, but she also had an enduring faith in Jesus Christ that ultimately led to the salvation of an entire nation.

Segment 1:

Bible Map 7: The Persian Empire



Esther 4:14 (For such a time as this)

Segment 2:


Esther 1:1–9 (King Ahasuerus’ feast)

Esther 1:10–22 (King Ahasuerus calls for Queen Vashti. She refuses and is sent away.)

Esther 2:5–7 (Esther is introduced)

Esther 2:20 (Mordecai asks Esther to never reveal she’s a Jew)

Esther 2:17 (Ahasuerus chooses Esther as his queen)

Link: Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Encircled in the Arms of His Love,” October 2002 general conference (divine orbits)

CR: Jeremiah 29:11 (God knows our outcomes)


Esther = Star in Persian

Segment 3:


Esther 2:21–23 (Mordecai stops an assassination attempt on the king)

Esther 3:1 (Haman is introduced)

Esther 3:2–13 (Mordecai doesn’t bow to Haman and Haman convinces the king to destroy the Jews on a specific day)

Esther 4:3–4 (The Jews mourn the king’s announcement)

Esther 4:13–14 (Mordecai asks Esther to approach the king)

Esther 4:16 (Esther asks the Jews to fast for her)

Esther 5:1 (Esther approaches the king)


Haman = To rage or be turbulent


“God will make a way out of no way,” (Pastor Raphael Warnock)

Segment 4:


Esther 5:2–3 (The king spares Esther’s life)

Esther 5:4 (Esther invites Haman and the king to a banquet)

Esther 5:9–14 (Haman builds gallows to hang Mordecai)

6:1–5 (The king asks the chronicles to be read to him and learns Mordecai saved his life)

6:6–14 (Haman prepares Mordecai’s reward for saving the king)

Segment 5


Esther 7:3–4 (Esther asks for her life and her people to be spared)

Esther 7:5–6 (Esther reveals Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews)

Esther 7:7–8 (Haman pleads for his life and the king takes him away)

Esther 7:9–10 (Haman is hanged on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai)

Esther 8:16–17 (The Jews celebrate their deliverance)


“If holding your ground is what you are called to most days, it helps to know your ground” (Kathleen Norris)

Segment 6:


Mark 14:36 (The Savior praying to His Father in Gethsemane)


Abba = Daddy

Tammy 0:02

Today we get to cover one of my all-time favorite books in the Old Testament! You guys, it's Esther. And get this, the book of Esther, it doesn't mention God's name once - He isn't even there. I know, right? That is so crazy. Yet there are signs of Him everywhere throughout the book. Today's challenge to you and to the three of us discussing Esther is to find God in this story and then to find Him in your own life, especially when it just seems like He isn't really there.

Welcome to the Sunday on Monday Study Group, a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDS Living where are we take the Come, Follow Me lesson for the week and we really dig into the scriptures together. I'm your host, Tammy Uzelac Hall. Now if you're new to our study group, I just want to make sure you know how to use this podcast. So follow the link in our description that's going to explain how you can best use this podcast to enhance your Come, Follow Me study, just like my dear friend Emily Estes, and her husband Matt. Emily is an Esther, for sure. And I've learned that about her. Now, here's my favorite thing about this study group. Each week, we're joined by two of my friends, so it's always a little bit different. And today we have - this is gonna be so fun - we have Laurel Christensen Day, and our good friend Tony Ragsdale. Hi, guys.

Laurel 1:14


Tony 1:15


Tammy 1:16

Let's tell everyone how we became friends.

Tony 1:19

Well, Miss Laurel,

Laurel 1:21

I met Tony because she and the Reverend, her husband came and spoke and did a Fifth Sunday Sunday school for our ward. And our word got really involved in helping them with their Fill the Pot Ministry that they do. And Tammy, I've known you since you know, I was knee high to a grasshopper, not really. Tammy and I met in high school. And I actually am just realizing, I don't know how Tammy and Tony met. I don't remember how that happened.

Tammy 1:52

Well, we met because you were telling me about Fill the Pot Ministries, and I was like, Oh, I totally want to volunteer with them. So you just said, Well, here's Tony's information, just call her.

Laurel 2:01

That was ME? I put you two together?

Tammy 2:04

Uh huh.

Tony 2:04


Laurel 2:07

"Match maker, Match maker, make me a match"

Tammy 2:09

And it's a match made in heaven. Oh, my gosh, I couldn't be more happy about this. So I called Tony. And I'm like, I want to come volunteer with my family. So we signed up, when we came down and we served breakfast and lunch at Fill the Pot Ministries in Salt Lake City, Utah. And then we got to know each other, and we've just worked together ever since, coming up with Christmas stuff

Laurel 2:26

And now Tammy, you and I have gotten to help. Yeah, we've gotten to help Tony with the work that she does. And so Tony, you probably ought to say a little bit about you.

Tammy 2:34


Tony 2:35

About me?

Tammy 2:36

Yes. Tell the audience about you. What do they need to know?

Tony 2:39

Okay. I'm fabulous.

Tammy 2:43

That's true.

Laurel 2:43


Tammy 2:44

Amen. Can I get a Hallelujah!

Tony 2:47

There you go. I'm full of energy. I enjoy my day, every day. It takes a lot to set me off keister. I enjoy people. I also work besides Fill the Pot Ministry, I also work a full-time job, my husband and I. Sunday we're feeding about 420 people, any given Sunday. We are doing AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) classes; we are also putting together family food boxes for those who are in need. We don't just serve the homeless - we call it the less fortunate, because there are some of our friends out there who are just one paycheck away from being homeless. And again, like my beautiful friends said here that they met me, we met through the organization. And it was like love at first sight. Like seriously, sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're friends for life. And some people you know, they're just a friend for a season. But these two young ladies, we don't talk on a regular basis, but I do know without fail, and I'm not saying this because they're sitting here, but because they're sitting here, I know without fail, that we are friends and they are some of my greatest supporters and cheerleaders. And I couldn't have made it to understand some of the things that I'm doing without their support. So

Laurel 4:01

Oh, we love you.

Tammy 4:03

We love you so much. And Tony's husband is a reverend for the Baptist Church. And one of my favorite things about the Fill the Pot Ministry venue you're building is your sacred room upstairs that he calls 'the upper room', where he teaches classes to the men from Scripture. And you feel it when you're there. I can remember when he gave me a tour and he took me into that room. And he told me it was called the upper room. And just as he bore witness to me of what happens in there, I just felt the Spirit so strong. So it's one of my favorite parts of your building. I just love it. I love what you guys do. So, thank you for joining us.

The other reason I wanted to invite Tony is because she just loves God so much, like so much. And I thought there's nobody else I would want to have discuss the Book of Esther with me and with Laurel than Tony. It just makes perfect sense. So I cannot wait to have your input and your opinion and your thoughts on all of this. So, it's awesome.

Well if you want to know more about my guests and read their bios and we will have information about Fill the Pot Ministries in there If you are a local in Utah; you can go to the show notes where all of their information will be at LDS

Okay, so we are in the book of Esther. So everybody grab your scriptures, grab something to mark your Scriptures with, and a scripture journal. And we are just going to dive right in. Here's my first question for you. If you could live during any time period in the history of the world, when would you live? Do you have a time when you're like, Boy, I'd love to have been alive then?

Laurel 5:26

I think I'd pick now; is that weird?

Tammy 5:28

Really? I thought for sure you would have said Jane Austen's time.

Laurel 5:31

Well. I am an old soul like that. But I think Jane Austen’s time actually would have driven me crazy at some point - all the embroidery and walking about the room, I think I would have gotten really bored. (laughter) So I'd like to do that for a day. But I don't, I wouldn't want to live my whole life in Jane Austen time.

Tammy 5:49


Tony 5:50

I agree. I was gonna say that also, that I enjoy the space I live now. I love older movies. I love Roman Catholic movies like that, I love things like the "King Arthur", but I enjoy the twist on the movies. I enjoy power, royalty, but I don't think I could live in those times. So I was going to say now, be honest with ya. Like, I think I'd rather live any other time.

Tammy 6:17

That is such a good answer. Because my follow-up question to you is this: If you're going to choose this time, why do you think God had you born at this time, then? Why are you here at this particular time and living in these circumstances?

Tony 6:34

I will say I believe that God has had me to be placed here on earth at this time is because of who I am, and my personality and character. I believe that with any other timeframe in history, considering so many tragic things have taken place with a vision of culture and, and prejudice and my mindset, and who I am - my heart, I probably would have been one of those people that's been out there on the picket line protesting, having a hard time. And I love culture, I love diversity. I love being outgoing. I can't imagine living someplace and with so many limitations. So I think for such a time as this, I had to be born to embrace the difference. Even the struggles as they may, can be challenging at times, but to embrace the difference. And to be a part of the growth that especially here in Utah. I actually love the time I'm in, and I own the space.

Tammy 7:32

Wow, great answer, Tony, I love everything you said. What about you, Laurel?

Well, I'm gonna flip it just a little bit back on Tony, because Tony and I had a little text conversation a couple days after the Buffalo (New York) shooting that was in May. And I was just checking in on my friend and we started chatting and she ended the conversation - I've been trying to find it, like scrolling through - and I'm just gonna give, these are the words of wisdom of Tony Ragsdale. She said some of the things that she's been learning through the process the last few months, some of the just tension and division that's going on. And Tony said, "Be more confident, hold your head up, love more, provide security, God, affirmation, try to engage in cultural events, be a good mama, be the best first lady for your son and practice what you teach him." And I think, Tony, you're a great example of someone like for such a time as this with the work that you and your husband are involved in. And it inspires me to think about the things I could be doing better to help my brothers and sisters around me. And I think that's kind of the beauty of this concept of why now? Like, why did God put us here instead of any other time? I honestly think, Tony, you're a good example of who you would have been doing the work, like, regardless of the century, you'd been put on this earth. And I'm just glad I get to be on the earth with someone like you. And I feel like I'm surrounded by a lot of women that I think, I don't care when He would have plopped me down necessarily as long as I get to be surrounded by really strong, courageous, God-fearing, covenant-keeping women.

Yes. Amen.

Tony 9:20

I get it. I agree.

Tammy 9:20

Absolutely. Wow. Thank you for sharing that, Laurel. That was incredible. I'm going to write Tony's words in my scriptures right there next to Esther. Wow, that was so good. It was good. I, the thing I appreciate the most about what you said Laurel and bringing in Tony's words is this idea. And you mentioned this "for such a time as this". Both of you have said that phrase. For those of you listening, it's a very important phrase in the story of Esther. And I want everyone to kind of be thinking right now: If you're uncertain about why you're alive at this time, and why you're here during this specific time period, there is a reason. It's not by some random cosmic mishap that you were born when you were born. There is a plan for every single one of us, and that's the message of Esther. And whatever light you can bring to your scenario or situation for such a time as this, that's what you've been sent here and called to do.

And so that's our kind of our challenge today is to kind of ask, why are you here? It's okay to ask why and have God show you and guide you on your path, to give you the answers to know why you are here. And I just believe with all my heart, that everybody, no doubt everybody is here for a purpose and a reason. And for me, it's to build God's kingdom. And I just think that's so important for us to recognize. So in the next segment, we're going to introduce you to Esther and we are going to find out why she was born for such a time as this.

Segment 2 10:41


Tammy 10:43

Okay, so I was gonna start out this segment, I actually had it written down right here. I was gonna start out this segment by saying, what's the craziest party you've ever been to? And then I realized, well, Laurel and I never went to parties in high school. We couldn't even answer that; we'd be like, We watched Ann of Green Gables until one in the morning one time

Tony 11:00

Neither have I.

Tammy 11:01

You've never been to a crazy party either.

Tony 11:03

Not in high school, for sure, no.

Tammy 11:05

No partiers, here. Okay. So then this is my question to you. In Esther chapter one. Would you want to go to that party that's in verses 1-9? Tell me, tell us about that party. What did it, were there some verses you notice that describe it? Did you pick up anything about that kind, that party?

Tony 11:25

That particular party lasted for 180 days. And they party day and night. And if you can think of it, that will happen at a wild party, it was there. So

Tammy 11:42

It totally was.

Tony 11:43

I don't know if I could hang at a party like that.

Tammy 11:48

What's your biggest fear at a party like that?

Tony 11:50

Maybe as a woman, my biggest fear would be surrounded by men that had such power over women. And the authority they had and you basically had no control over your own thoughts, your body or your decision making. You were, yeah, so that would be my fear.

Tammy 12:11

Excellent answer. What about you, Laurel. Did you notice anything that describes this party?

Laurel 12:15

Um, yeah, just all the things that are had already been said. But honestly, I, there's one little line that I was counseled in, in a blessing once, to stay away from places where the Spirit cannot speak to me, or where I can't hear the Spirit. So when I read scenarios like this, it honestly makes me a little anxious, because I just I think that in those kinds of environments it's just so much harder to hear warnings and promptings and the voice of the Lord in your life. And that, that causes me a lot of angst to think about.

Tammy 12:54

Absolutely. Let's mark some of these verses that describe this party. And Tony, I liked that you told us it's a 180-day party. You're totally right. In fact, the timeframe it gives us is in verse 4, that it would last at 100 and 4 score days. So let's look at a couple of things at the end of this 180-day period. The king of Persia, that's the land we're talking about the king of Persia, and we actually have a map of what Persia looks like. We're going to put it up right here so you can see just how big this whole kingdom was. It's the king of Persia, his name is King, Ahasuerus. And he's having this huge party like Tony said, 180 days. And at the end of the 180-day period, he then is going to have a small seven-day banquet, and that's in verse 5. It will last seven days. And in verse 7 it says that there was "royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king'" Verse 8, "the drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house that they should do according to every man's pleasure."

I mean, what does that tell you? Whoa. I mean, that's scary, the whole thing you described and as a woman, I don't want any part of that, right?

Tony 14:00


Tammy 14:01

Now you can see in this map, that is a huge, gigantic kingdom. There's a lot of people that he's ruling over. And so he's inviting everybody to this party. That's a lot of people. While he's hosting all of the men for this party, there's another party going on with Queen Vashti, his wife, and she's having this party with all of her friends. Then we go to verse 10. At the end of the seven days, when they were feasting and drinking wine in abundance, it tells us that "the heart of the king was merry with wine". And for verses 11-22, here's this story. We're gonna just 'cliff note' it real quick. And so he commanded that they bring Queen Vashti in to parade before all of the men. Now why is this not a good idea? Tony, you already kind of said it didn't, didn't ya.

Tony 14:43

Exactly. First, she's his wife. Who is because of the state of mind that the men are in, and also because of the fact that the men can take advantage and do what they wanted to do to any woman that they pleasured.

Tammy 14:57

Totally. And so Queen Vashi, she's not having it. She refuses. She says to the king, tell him I'm not coming. Well, the king is upset, and so are all of the king's men. In fact, they freak out to the point where they say, She can't treat you like that. She can't tell you no. And then the king is like, Well, what do you think we should do? And the king's men say, Oh, well, you should strip her of her crown, first of all. And then secondly - I think this is so silly to me - we're going to write a decree throughout all the land that none of the wives can say no to their husbands. Like, you're not allowed to come up and have an opinion at all. Because if they think the queen can get away with it, then so we'll all of our wives. And the king's like, that's a great idea; I think that's what we'll do. And it happens. And so the queen, she loses her crown, and then they need to have a new queen. And so this is a part of the story in Esther chapter 2 - I wrote to the outside - This is the Old Testament beauty pageant of all beauty pageants. Am I right?

Tony 15:54


Tammy 15:55

So Tony, I want you to be our beauty pageant announcer and sum up Esther chapter 2 for us. Tell us what happens in this chapter.

Tony 16:02

Okay. In the second chapter is when the king begins to search for a new wife. And so he puts out this search that he only wants virgins. He wants the most appealing and attractive virgins. And he put out the order to go seek ye therefore and bring them back. And then they put on this beauty pageant that lasted 12 months.

Tammy 16:29

Yeah, a full year,

Tony 16:31

a full year

Tammy 16:32

of like debutant classes in the king's house, like I'm just imagining them walking with a book on their head, you know, you better walk right. They bathed in beautiful things so they smelled nice.

Tony 16:43


Laurel 16:44

Does it say how many there were?

Tony 16:47

I don't recall.

Tammy 16:48

Nope, I didn't see that either. Nope. But there had to have been many because look how and go back to that map. That's a lot of land we're covering here. And that is just a lot of young virgins that are going to be called. And everyone in the whole Persian Empire had to be called back to parade before the king for this beauty pageant.

Tony 17:08


Tammy 17:09


Laurel 17:09

And the women had maids with them. Right? So there were even more women, in addition to the women that were being in front.

Tammy 17:16

Yes. So knowing that, meanwhile, there's this sweet little person who probably doesn't even want to be a part of this beauty pageant and we're introduced to her in Esther chapter 2. And can we read that story verses 5-7 and Laurel, will you read those for us, please.

Laurel 17:33


EST 2:5 "Now in Shushan", is that how you say that Tammy, Shushan?

Tammy 17:37

Yes, Shushan, Yeah. And that's the capital of the Persian Empire.

Laurel 17:41

5 ",,,,,,the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shemei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;

6 "Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, who Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon carried away.

7 "And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter."

Tammy 18:21

Thank you. So we have sweet Esther there; mark her name in verse 7. I love that it says her name Hadassah. And why you want to know that is because it's in the Persian tongue, and that name means STAR. So how beautiful, she's the STAR of the Old Testament. So Esther's name means star. And she will be the star of her own story, which we all are, right? And so she has this cousin come in, Mordecai, and he's going to raise her. And she, her parents are dead, like her story is so sad. And he says to her, Oh, you're going to be in this beauty pageant. I'm going to need you to go into this palace and in this castle. But he gives her one really strict rule in verse 20. Look at verse 20. In Esther chapter 2, what does he tell her she can never do in verse 20?

Laurel 19:07

Acknowledge who she is, or reveal who she is, she is a Jew.

Tammy 19:11

She's never allowed to say she's a Jew. How do you think that might play on her emotions? Or her psyche if you can't say who you are?

Laurel 19:21

Well you wonder how much she even understood about the times or the risks of that. But I think we all understand that when you have to keep a part of yourself hidden, it messes with you.

Tammy 19:36

Yeah, absolutely. I like that answer.

Tony 19:38

I totally agree with Laurel say, living in such a time again as that, I think she understood. It was like this unspoken rule that I cannot reveal because there always, there already was a dislike for the Jews. So to not reveal herself at that time, I believe that she understood what was the place and why.

Tammy 20:00

Very good, great responses for both of you. Well when we read this story right here, that the great result is in verse 17. I mean, Esther was so well liked that the man who was basically the eunuch who was over all of the women in this, for this year-long event, he really liked Esther the most. She had, she was kind of the favorite. And then the king really liked her. Let's read the end result of this beauty pageant. Tony, will you read verse 17.

Tony 20:25

2:17 "Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any other woman, and she won his favour and approval more than any other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her Queen instead of Vashti."

Tammy 20:38

Yay, she won.

She won, yes she did.

She won, but this is crazy to me. I was thinking about this, as I was reading, it's the first time I've actually considered this question. The odds were not in her favor at all. Like, she probably shouldn't have won when you consider all the women in all of this land that he had to choose from. And I was just kind of wondering what you both thought on this question, what does that tell us about God that she did win, and His plan for us?

Laurel 21:04

I think it feels like one of those times when, I'm someone who believes God is involved in our lives, but He also lets our lives play out, and really intervenes when it's absolutely necessary for our growth and progress, or the growth and progress of others. And this just feels like one of those times where this had to happen. It had to be Esther. And so whether He, you know, gave her some sort of a glow that made her stand out from everybody else, or whether He impressed something upon the heart of the eunuch or on the king. Like something clearly happened here so that it was her above all else. And I think he does that at times when it's important and necessary in our lives.

Tammy 21:53

Has he done that for you?

Laurel 21:55

For sure

Tammy 21:56

Sometime in your life that stands out?

Laurel 21:57

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I can look back on my life and, and have like those little moments of where I just knew, Oh, wow. I can see now where He helped A happened, so that B happened, so that C happened, so that when I was at H, like all those little dots start to connect. And I don't think there have been very many times where I've noticed it in the moment, but I can look back on my life and see how He has helped orchestrate some things. You know, Elder Maxwell calls them 'divine orbits', where, you know, He just, He puts us in paths and puts us in places where we needed to have that experience in order to have the next experience where He needs us to be.

Tammy 22:49

That's an excellent answer; I like that. 'Divine orbits'. Hold, please, I'm writing that down. What about you, Tony?

Tony 22:56

I believe Jeremiah 29:11 that states 'for I know the plans I have for you for you to prosper, to have a good life.' So even when we don't see God, He's already basically put an order or decree for us to prosper and have a good life. And I believe that God doesn't have to always come and whisper sweet nothings in our ear for us to take step one, step two, step three, like Laurel was saying, A, B, C, H. That when we walk in His presence, and keep trusting, believing, the doors just open for us. And so it's not about always having to have again, God whispering the word this, just trusting and believing and just being a vessel. And I also believe we have to be available. And Esther made herself available.

Laurel 23:43

I love that.

Tammy 23:45

So do I. Oh, I think that's awesome.

Laurel 23:49

She could have she could have said no, I don't want any part of this. Right? Yeah.

Tammy 23:53

Well, that's exactly it, she made herself available. And so that's what we're asked to do. Just make yourself available. so that the Lord can use you for sure. That's, that is so good. That is such a great point. Made her available. Okay, that is awesome. So, in the next segment, we are going to find out the impact that Esther had, because she made herself available.

Segment 3 24:12


Tammy 24:13

Okay, here's what you need to know, as we get into this next segment. There's a cute little story, uh, actually it's not that cute. Verses 21-23, here's what you need to know. One of the things that cousin Mordecai did on a daily basis was he sat outside the temple, and he wanted to catch word about how Esther is doing and he'd send in messages to Esther. We need to know that little side story. Well, when Mordecai is sitting outside of the gates one day he overhears two men. Their names are Bigthan and Teresh. They're the king's chamberlains and you're gonna see this in Esther 2:21-23. Mordecai hears them talking and they are talking about taking the life of King Ahasuerus. Like they're mad and they want the king dead. And Mordecai, he sends a message to Esther and lets her know, Hey, there's two guys out here who want to kill the king. And turns out that they then go and arrest Bigthan and Teresh and sure enough, they wanted to kill them and so these men are killed and it's written in the Book of Chronicles. And that's what you need to know; tuck that away, cuz that story's going to come into play in a little bit.

So now we're going to go into Esther chapter 3 and we get to meet the villain in the story. And his name is in verse 1. It says, "After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha. Now just write, highlight Haman in that verse right there. His name in Hebrew means "to rage or be turbulent". Isn't that interesting?

Laurel 25:38

Well now, that's appropriate.

Tammy 25:41

Yeah, right. A little foreshadowing there. So I've asked Laurel to tell us the Haman stories, because there's a couple of them in the book of Esther. So Laurel, hit it; what's going on with Haman right here?

Laurel 25:50

Okay, just in chapter 3. And can I first just say how much I love that, like, I'm 50 years old and I've clearly heard the story of Esther a gazillion times, and I've read it. I just love that you don't think about Haman, like, it's like we don't talk about Bruno, we don't talk about Haman.

Tony 26:10

We do not.

Laurel 26:11

Yeah, except in fairness, Bruno is a good guy in that story. But anyway, so, Haman is promoted, but we don't really know why; he was just promoted among all the princes. And everyone revered him because that's what you have to do you. You revere the royalty, right? Everyone, and they were commanded to except Mordecai. We see that in verse 2. Now we see in verse 3-12. The king's team notices that Mordecai is not bowing when Haman comes by, and they keep telling Haman. And so Haman starts to notice. And this, of course, made Haman angry. Now we know because his mother named him so. So he's angry by nature anyway.

So Haman decides to up the offense, if you ask me. I mean, it's, it's fascinating how quickly this escalates, and decides he wants to destroy all the Jews. So Haman proceeds to plant seeds of concern in the king's ear, that there are a group of people who are not loyal to the King, and that they're making things hard. And, and Haman would be totally happy to, you know, destroy these people, if that's what the king wants. And after planting that in the King's head, the king decides to let Haman do whatever he would like to do with these people. There's a letter written, it's sent to all the provinces, letting them know that on a particular day, they were to kill all the Jews: men, women, and children.

Tammy 27:35

Oh, my gosh. In fact, let's read that letter in verse 13. Laurel, read verse 13 for us, because it just it cuts, it breaks my heart.

Laurel 27:43

Yeah, it's pretty um, it like stops your heart.

13 "....the letters were sent by posts into all the king's provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the 13th day of the 12th month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey."

Tammy 28:08

And at the end of verse 13, where it says to take the spoil of them for a prey, I mean, that's the spoils of war we've often talked about this year, but they're saying, 'and anything that belong to the Jews, you now get to own.' I mean, it just, it makes you, makes me very uncomfortable and so sad. And it reminds me of the Holocaust on so many levels right here and just, ah, I don't like it.

Laurel 28:30

It just makes me think of, you know, that that adage that if we don't learn our history, we're doomed to repeat it. And there's so many times when God's children have been so, like, unbelievably cruel and horrific to other children. And you would think, Oh, my goodness, you would think that by the 21st century, we would have all just said, Enough. And, and why keep perpetuating these evils and atrocities? And it's just, it's, it's horrifying, honestly.

Tammy 29:02

Laurel, you did an excellent job telling us about Haman. That is exactly what we needed to know. Okay. Let's go into Esther chapter 4. And let's read about how the Jews reacted to this news. Let's read verse 3. This is, Tony, will you read that for us.

Tony 29:16

4:3 "And in every province, whethersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes."

Tammy 29:27

Thank you, and that sackcloth and ashes is an outward symbol of just absolute grief and sadness. So we can see that their reaction, describe their reaction to us. How would you sum that up?

Tony 29:39

I would say, put myself in their position, that they were horrified, scared, concerned, their-the future. Their whole generation was about to be wiped out. So they were furious. Where do they go? Where do they turn? And of course, angry.

Tammy 29:59

Yeah, excellent description. And verse 4 tells us that the queen was exceedingly grieved. And remember, she still hasn't said who she is. King doesn't know she's a Jew. But she's so sad. And so we get this great correspondence between her and Mordecai. And Mordecai writes her a letter and explains this is what's going on. And the queen knows that the Jews are so sad, and so Mordecai’s because like you need to do something, you need to save our people. And the and Esther writes back and says, I can't like she didn't. I don't have a voice, right? Like, I don't know what I would possibly say. And this is where we get the awesome line because Mordecai writes her back and says, No, I don't think you understand. So let's go into Esther chapter 4, and let's read what Mordecai writes to his cousin Esther. We're going to read Esther 4:13,14, and Tony I'll have you read those also, please.

Tony 30:48

4:13 "Then Mordecai command to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.

14 "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the king for such a time as this?"

Tammy 31:14

There it is. Awesome, thank you. And so there's that line, highlight that: "for such a time as this". Like, maybe this is why you're here. This is why you won the crown, right? To do something good with your power that you have. And Esther's response in verse 16 is so awesome. Because one of the things we have to understand before we can go on, the reason why Esther was so nervous about going in to talk to the king is because she wasn't allowed to. Yes, she is the queen, but she can't just willy-nilly walk in to where his throne is during his daily appointments. And so here's what this looks like: there will be two men at the doorway with axes. And she would walk into the door. If she has an appointment, the king will take his royal scepter and put it out and point it to her in the doorway and let her in. If she does not have an appointment, he will keep his scepter down. And then the two men with axes have permission to kill her at the doorstep.

And so that's what she's going through her mind. Like, I don't have an appointment, I can't just walk in and talk to the king. And here's cousin Mordecai saying, "for such a time as this", like you're gonna have to do that. And Esther has time to think about this. And here's her response in verse 16. What does she tell him to do? And what is she willing to do? Laurel, will you read verse 16 for us, please.

Laurel 32:28

4:16 "Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."

You know, one of the things that just struck me as you were talking about this, Tammy, and setting up the stage is one of the, I think, unfortunate pieces of the Bible or any scriptural history is that we don't know the whole story even. Like, all we have is what here, we don't know how much Esther knew about Vashti - was that her name, the queen? We don't know how much Esther even knew when Mordecai convinced her to like, enter into this, you know, as we called it, the pageant.

We don't know the stories that she knew. We don't know what she learned about the king, once she became the queen. Some of the interactions maybe she's already had with him that have already been frightening or intimidating or, and I just think the magnitude of this moment for her, I don't think we can fully appreciate. Even with what you just shared about, you know, the two men on what they can do. I just don't think we can appreciate, like, the possible trauma that she's already feeling in this foreign space for her. And for some reason, I've just never thought about that until you were kind of setting up the stage. And so now, her like saying, you fast, we'll fast. And then for her to say, "If I perish, I perish" is so astonishing. That really meant she really truly believed she could die. And I just don't think we sit with that magnitude of that enough, you know.

Tammy 34:21

Oh, Laurel, what you just said added so much more weight to that "If I perish, I perish". I love what you just shared about that, because it wasn't just a, like, it wasn't just a trite little like, well, you know, I might die. Like, I think you're right, I think she believes I will, if, I'm probably going to die. I, yeah.

Laurel 34:42

And this is not a man who loves her, you know? This is a man who picked her, and she's in this foreign place. I just, I don't think I've ever felt, though I've always loved the story of Esther. I've always thought she was a hero. A heroine, sorry. I just I don't think I've ever made myself sit with what she must have been feeling until now and it's pretty, it's just remarkable what she did.

Tammy 35:08

How is it striking you, Tony?

Tony 35:10

Well, you know, to my understanding in taking back from Laurel's emotions, she was a teenager. And if you think about being a teenager, yourself, or a teenager these days, or if you have young people or if you do young women, can you imagine 1st, being married off at that age, not just a beauty pageant, but you are destined to someone that you don't know. And what you've heard about this person is not the kindest of all, you know, characteristic traits. And then when you are selected, I guess you're relieved, but you're still scared. And then to be a Jew. And to have to be told that you are the one, the chosen one at this time. And you take your teenager self, as you go with your immature mind, and heart, and not knowing - and you convince this man who is ruthless, that these people that are here - that he should set them free and not kill them.

Like, even with as Laurel was saying, the mindset, the fear. And I didn't think about that either as deep until I was studying last night, because I'm like, I need to get studying, But to have her think that this is it, this my life is gonna end. And if there's nothing else I can do but stand before Him. And when I do that, most likely this is the end of the rope for all people involved. So yeah, it, I can't imagine, can't imagine.

Laurel 36:50

And yeah, I love that she had the spiritual maturity to know fasting and prayer. I mean that's pretty remarkable, too. What life experiences has she had that gave her a testimony of fasting and prayer? And I just, there's pieces of this that I just hadn't really thought about before.

Tammy 37:09

Well, it makes me go back to that statement, you made Tony: "be the best First Lady for your son", but I'm thinking like, be the best First Lady for your daughters. Like teach them what they need to know, and someone taught her fasting works. That's what's so cool.

Tony 37:22

I like that. So cool.

Tammy 37:23

So cool. Well, everything we've just discussed when I was preparing for this lesson, I saw the most awesome interview by Reverend Raphael Warnock. He is the senior Pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. And he's

Laurel 37:35

I followed him on Instagram.

Tammy 37:36

You did?

Laurel 37:37

I do. I followed him for like the last year on Instagram.

Tammy 37:40

Oh, my gosh, this is so cool. As he has, well, he has a famous saying that is "God makes a way out of no way". And this is one of those moments. He is going to make a way out of no way. And so I was curious to know, have either one of you seen this truth in your own life? Has God made a way out of no way for you?

Tony 38:01

Oh, my. I will go and say, Of course, on several occasions. And I love that saying, because actually been engaged in Baptist Church, I've heard it many times. And at first you don't get it until you are in the midst of the unsuspected, unexpected turmoil and a big storm. And so for my life, I can truly say that God's made a way out of no way. So let me see. I have my second husband now, my first husband been together since we were 16 years old. When, I'd say about 19 1/2 years ago he committed suicide. And life just took me for a whirlwind. And nearly the rug, not just the rug, the floor just was pulled from under me, and trying to wrap my head around that. Then a widowed single parent trying to explain to your children that the man they knew as their father, not only is dead, but has taken his own life.

One morning, probably about day two after his death, and I remember this like it was yesterday, that after trying to deal with the children, my own emotions, I went to stand up on the side of my bed and I could not move and my legs could not go and I couldn't walk and I just felt very weak. And then I said, God, I don't know what's going to happen. What am I doing? And I tried to step again and I fell back on the bed and I just laid there and I said, I need You to help me move. I need You, I have kids downstairs depending on me. And I need You to give me strength and energy to do this.

And instantly - I'm not kidding, I couldn't make this up on my best day - that I rose to my feet. And from there on, I just kept moving and moving and moving. And we was down to one income, my income, which wasn't much. And God opened so many doors. He's my 'favor of God' ladies. Oh my gosh. I worked in a dental plaza with different doctors; they were so understanding and generous. My house payment, they didn't know how much it was, and one day I went to my office, there was a check on my desk and it was for 2 of my house payments for two months. I mean, just things that God just bound in or exhaust or I don't know, I don't have any money. He committed suicide so there was no insurance.

And so, but I didn't miss a beat on food. Lights were never out. Never sat in the dark. We were never hungry. Christmas was provided. I promise you that, guys. We would, God just, people just lining up. And I'm, I give; I have a hard time receiving, but things are at my door, stuff was in my mailbox. I go to work, things are on my desk. I promise you a way out of no way. If you knew my income back then and what I was going through and not having any family here to help me with this. You, a miracle? Like literally a miracle took place in that time. And you had to witness it. It was so much coming I couldn't even explain and even know who to thank because things were just in the mailbox popping up.

Laurel 41:46

Tony I can't believe, I mean, we've only known you with your now husband. I can't believe I didn't know that part of your story. And the whole time you're talking I'm thinking, Well, He's still doing that. I mean, you've shared so many times when you don't know where the next donation or the next whatever Fill the Pot Ministry need is. And you always say like we always have what we need, always does that and I just, I love your witness of, of God doing that in your life. And now I see Him doing it in your important ministry work with taking care of people. It's just remarkable.

Tony 42:26

It's true. And that's why I'm so crazy about God. I'm not kidding. I am like so crazy about God. And what who He is and what He's done and the strength that He's provided - the leverage, the love. I truly believe - I don't know about you guys - but I am truly, I know this, His favorite. I say it all the time. I like, I know I'm Your favorite, Your favorite chick out here. I know I am. What's next?

Tammy 43:00


Laurel 43:01

Tammy and I've been saying that for years. So apparently it's a triplet thing going on.

It is, really. Why not?

Tammy 43:06

It must be. You're God's favorite. Oh my gosh,

Laurel 43:09


Tammy 43:10

I mean, Tony, you are absolutely a living testament of "no way," er, or you are a living testament of "a way out of no way." You always have been. And I love that you brought up, Laurel, her working at Fill the Pot Ministries because I'm laughing inside about how I took on the opportunity to provide Thanksgiving dinner. And I did a big old sign-up genius for Thanksgiving dinner, and I had everything planned and prepared. Everyone's bringing everything to feed 400 people for Thanksgiving dinner, and it turns out Tony serves Thanksgiving dinner the week before Thanksgiving, so none of the things showed up. And yet, she still had enough food to feed 300 people.

Tony 43:47

Guarantee you.

Tammy 43:47

And then the next week they had a second Thanksgiving dinner. I called you feeling so bad cuz I didn't know you did it on a different week and you're like, "a way out of no way." God provided, we had plenty of food.

Tony 43:57

We did.

Tammy 43:58

Oh. Amen. That is, Tony, thank you for sharing, that was a beautiful story. I so appreciate that. Now in Esther, I mean, this thing that I love about this is the "no way" moment for Esther as we just talked about, and so Esther 5:1, here it is.

5:1 " came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house; and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house."

Tony 44:29

In the next segment we're going to find out what happens to Esther.

Segment 4 44:32


Tammy 44:32

Is your heart beating? Are you dying to find out what's going to happen? Do you feel so anxious, like she's standing at the door. There's the man with the axe! WHAT's happening? And then we go right in. Let's do it. Verse 2 and verse 3. Laurel, hit it.

Laurel 44:33

5:2 "And it was so, when the king sat Esther the Queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight; and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the top of the scepter.

3 "Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom."

Tammy 45:11

Huh, we can all breath! Phew! Okay, she's gonna live. I love that his, he says like, whatever you ask, I will give you. Do you want to have my kingdom? I laugh at me because I would have been like, Actually that sounds pretty great. Can I have it? You know, sure I'll take half the kingdom. So this conversation happens. And Esther, I love her answer. She just says in verse 4, ".....If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him." That's it. She's like, I just wondered if you and Haman could come to dinner? Right?

It's also brilliant though, because

Tell me why.

Laurel 45:49

I just think if I had been Esther, I would have been like, Okay, this is my chance. And this might be my only chance. I better spill the beans right now about why I've come. But she's got this plan this plan that I have to believe she felt like was the plan God told her to do. Otherwise, why would she have risked the possible only chance and she is sticking to the plan, even if it doesn't make sense? Like she's sticking to the plan. I just think it's brilliant.

Tammy 46:17

It's so brilliant. It wouldn't have even been in my wheelhouse. Just like you said, Laurel. And you're a business lady. You'd have just cut to the chase.

Laurel 46:23

Oh, I would have I would have just been like spilling the beans all over the place like, Okay, this is why I'm here. This is what we need to do. Yeah,

Tammy 46:31

I didn't sleep at the door.

Laurel 46:32

I want to cook for you; I might throw you a little banquet.

Tony 46:35

I will throw you dinner, kind of like dinner.

Tammy 46:37

I wouldn't have thought of that. Because I would have been like, do you like mac and cheese? How do you feel about grilled cheese sandwiches or corndogs? Like, yes. I want you to come to a beautiful banquet. And I just think it's so funny because in my mind I'm imagining the king saying to Haman, Hey, what are you doing tomorrow night or tonight for dinner? Nothing? Good. You're coming to a banquet. So Haman agrees. He's gonna go have this wonderful banquet with the king and the queen. But before he does, now here's another Haman story. So Laurel, I'm gonna plug you in, hit it. What happens?

Laurel 47:03

So starting in verse 9, Haman's really happy right now, he's in a powerful spot. He's feeling good about himself. He sees Mordecai again, at the gate of the king. Mordecai, keep in mind is still not respecting the Prince, and Haman gets angry again. He even comments how proud he is of himself and how that he of all the other men were invited to the banquet. But none of this matters. He says because Mordecai still won't respect him. It's so fascinating. Odd obsession with his ego. That's more important to him than anything. He wants Mordecai to bow. The invitation to the banquet, none of it matters of Mordecai doesn't bow. So then he goes and talks to his wife. And she suggests -which is such an odd thing, I think but shows their odd relationship - she suggests that Haman builds a gallows, and that he should hang Mordecai ahead of the banquet,

Tammy 47:03

which is interesting, because in verse 14, where she gives him that instruction, and it says that the gallows will be made 50 cubits high. That's 75 feet in the air, because she's like, that way everyone can see it happen. Nobody gets away with treating Haman that way. Ahhh, it gives ya chills.

Tony 48:20

You know what, when I read that I was thinking how're they going to get him up there, when they drop him or hang him? I was thinking that last night like, how

Tammy 48:27

The stairs.

Tony 48:30

Just, I was, I was like, who's walking up these stairs and how many men is it gonna take to? I'm not kidding (laughter) Oh, talk about anger, like, you're very persistent.

Tammy 48:46

Awesome. That's awesome. Okay, so we are going to continue the story in Esther chapter 5. But before we do I have to ask this question: What do you do when you can't sleep? I'm gonna tell you right now. I take either Advil pm or an Ambien. I don't even fight the sleep. I keep the stuff to sleep. But what about you guys? What do you do? I

Laurel 49:04

I'm embarrassed to say but I play Quordle, the practice Quordle over and over and over again.

Tammy 49:08

Okay, a little game on your phone. What about you, Tony? What do you do when you can't sleep?

Tony 49:12

I watch movies.

Laurel 49:13

Oh, that's a good one.

Tammy 49:13

I think I'll try that.

Oh, yeah. Yeah. All right. Very good.

Laurel 49:17

What I don't do is ask for the Book of Chronicles to be read to me. That's what I don't do.

Tammy 49:22

Go to the story, hit it Laurel.

Laurel 49:23

So verse 1, chapter 6:1, King's having a restless night. And he asks for the Chronicles to be read to him. And as they're being read to him, he discovers it - seemingly for the first time - that this man named Mordecai saved his life when Mordecai outed that there was a plan to kill him. And so the King's kind of astonished at this. And he's asking how Mordecai has been taken care of since this great act. And his servants tell the king that, Well, nothing's really ever been done for Mordecai. So at the same time, though, Haman arrives to tell the king about the gallows and his plan to hang Mordecai. But before he can even kind of get to that the king asks Haman, What should be done for a man who deserves honor?

And egotistical, arrogant Haman, thinking that the king was surely referring to him because who would the king want to give honor to more than Haman, presents this elaborate plan about what should be done to honor such a man. And it's basically a royal parade throughout the city. So the king loves the idea and tells Haman to go get Mordecai his due. And do every detail of the idea you just presented. So Haman, to his credit got everything ready, and then just before Mordecai gets to the palace, he goes home and complains about all that's happened. And his wife Zeresh, she basically prophesies that Haman is not going to conquer Mordecai and the Jews, which is so interesting to me, that she has this propheciacal - is that, is that a word? - She has this moment, realizing like what her husband is, or who her husband is up against.

I love nothing more than when Laura retells stories.

Tammy 51:14

A bedtime story. I'm not kidding. I j

Your grandkids would love this story.

Laurel 51:25

Gallows, hangings,

Tammy 51:27

Thank you. You have so many grandsons.

Laurel 51:29

Perfect for grandchildren

Tony 51:30

I know. Betrayal

Tammy 51:33


Tony 51:34

A parade. I know,

Tammy 51:35

There's a parade. Don't forget about that. Okay. Tony, talk to me, because I just love how you kept inserting and you're like, I love this, I love this. Tell me your thoughts on this story.

Tony 51:44

I laugh because he's so cocky. And he's so sure of himself, which you cannot blame him because he is the king's sidekick right-hand man. And the king trusts him, so you can't blame him for it. But I love the fact that he's like, we should do this. We should honor, we should have a parade. And then when the king says yes, do this, do that. And he goes, get this, Mordecai. And Mordecai is the one that's on top. And he's the one walking him, parading him through the town. Can you imagine the look on his face?

Tammy 52:17

It's a look I wish I could see. When we get to heaven and we get to do rewinds. That's the story I'm going to.

Laurel 52:24

So I have to say like the wannabe therapist in me, ego and arrogance comes from just deep insecurity, right? We know that. Like people who are terribly egotistical, are actually just so desperately insecure. So I do, I do confess, like, there's a part of me that feels even for as bad as Haman is, you just think he has to be thinking, Wait, how did this twist on me? How did this, I had this masterful plan. And in the end, ego can't see anything but ego. But he really couldn't see anything. It's fascinating. And we see it play out all the time today, you know, in politics and communities and fam like, you know, it's ego and pride and those things are interlinked and he just, it was his fault. He, he was his own fault. Yeah, I was

Tony 53:15

Yeah. I was sitting here thinking just now when Laurel was talking like, considering how close he and the King were at some point. And him being his right-hand man. Why was he not able to say, Hey, hey, hey. Wait a minute. It just shows the power and the mindset, and almost a cruelty of the king, that he even was fearful himself to question his concern about who and how was Mordecai being chosen over him?

Laurel 53:46

That's a great point.

Tammy 53:47

It is.

Tony 53:48

Serious. The Jews lived in fear, but they all lived in fear of the king.

Laurel 53:51

That's a great point.

Tammy 53:52

Great input. Thank you. It really is just this comedy of errors. That whole chapter 6. Like, I can't get enough of it. And you did an excellent job, Laurel, telling that story. So thank you. So in the next segment, we are going to find out what the result is of this comedy of errors because Haman is whisked off to the banquet and the drama is not over. We'll tell you more about that in the next segment.

Segment 5 54:13


Tammy 54:22

Let's find out what happens. They go to the banquet. Esther invites them in, Haman and the king. And in chapter 7:3, Esther the queen, she says, "If I have found favour in thy site, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request:" Highlight that. Remember, she has not said who she is. She divulges more of in verse 4.

4 "For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king's damage."

Esther is declaring her nationality with this wording in verse 3 and 4. And so she's acknowledging, I am part of the people that you're going to kill; I am a Jew. And this is, just sends a shockwave through the king, because then suddenly he's like, Wait, what? What are you talking about? The king asks her, 'This is interesting. Who is he? Where is he? Where is your adversary in this?' Like, it's almost like he doesn't understand what's going on. It's so fascinating to me. Where did he miss the boat on the fact that he signed off on having all the Jews killed? And then she outs Haman in verse 6. The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. And then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen, right?

Laurel 55:35

Well she outs Haman with him right there. That's what's so brilliant about orchestrating and wanting this banquet and not just telling the king in the first meeting. I think it's so interesting that this needed to happen the way it needed to happen, you know.

Tammy 55:52

Well, and how did Haman react Laurel, because you're our Haman authority.

Laurel 55:56

Well, he was terrified.

Tammy 55:58

And then in verse 7, the king gets up from the banquet, like he gets up in a wrath, and he goes out into the palace garden, probably to just get control of his thoughts and find out what he's going to do about this situation. He's torn between Esther and Haman. But then Haman, Laurel, tell us the human story in 7 and 8.

Laurel 56:15

So Haman gets up to go make a request for his life to Esther. And it makes it sound like based on verse 7 and 8 that he at some point has fallen upon the bed where Esther is, if I'm reading that correctly, pleading for his life, but inappropriate for him to fall upon the bed where Esther was. Then you tell the rest of that.

Tammy 56:38

The King comes in, let's look at the very end of verse 8. ".....Then said the king, Will he force the Queen also before me in the house? As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face."

That part where it says, "Will he force the Queen also before me in this house?", many scholars believe that what Haman's doing appears to be a sexual advance, even though he wasn't. He was begging for his life, but that's what it looked like to the king. That even made him more angry.

Tony 57:04

More angry, yes.

Tammy 57:05

And as a result, oh, verse 9. Tony, read that for us.

Tony 57:10

9 "And Harbonah, one of the chamberlains, said before the king, Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon."

Laurel 57:27

I mean, Hollywood. Like

Tony 57:30

It's a Hollywood.

Laurel 57:32

this, it's just crazy.

Tammy 57:36

It is the best ending to the story. And then you go back to "for such a time as this"; "If I perish, I perish", like everything we've highlighted here. And "God makes a way out of no way".

Tony 57:47

And in verse 3, I love the fact that she took the fact that he was fascinated about her in beauty. Women, woman, our wiles, that she didn't misuse hers or misrepresented, but she knew that he was captivated by her beauty, and that he was totally attracted to her. So for her to set the scene for herself to have a dinner, to be beautiful. And then she struck him where it would be most impactful and said, They basically want to kill me. I am my people; they want to take me from you. I will be murdered. And then she added "my people". And so it was like we're a package deal. She didn't separate. So I love that, when I read that also, I was like, Oh you clever girl.

Tammy 58:39

Oh my gosh, I love that. Very clever. Okay, hold the phone. I'm writing' that in my scriptures. So we just have to go to Esther 8:16, 17, because this might be the best ending to any story that I've ever read. And I highlight 'em and it makes me so happy. So go to Esther 8:16, 17, and we're going to mark all of the feelings that the Jews had as they celebrated their liberation. Here we go, I'll read 16 and 17 because it's my favorite. But before I do, we need to know that after Haman died, Mordecai was honored and placed over the house of Haman. And then the king sent out a new decree freeing the Jews from that awful letter of extinction written by Haman.

8:16 "The Jews had light, and gladness, and joy, and honour.

17 "And in every province, and in every city, withersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day....."

So much

Tony 59:39

and a good day,

Tammy 59:40

"and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews for the fear of the Jews fell upon them."

I mean, how awesome when it says many of the people of the land became Jews, there is so much to that. They became believers in the God of Israel, the God of the Old Testament. That is so powerful. All because of this sweet Esther who courageously was willing to give her life for her people. Like it's just mind-blowing, isn't it? That ending. Go back to those verses 16 and 17. Is there one of the feelings that stands out to you, one that resonates with you?

Laurel 1:00:14

I just love the word gladness, because it's different than happy. It's like a gratitude emotion. It's deeper than happy. I love that term.

Tammy 1:00:25

Oh I like that too. Let me mark that. What about you, Tony?

Tony 1:00:29

I would actually select the word light. Because light shows that God is so involved in everything that's happening here. When you say that the people also became Jew wasn't a cultural thing, or they change their birth rights. It was the ownership of Christianity and believing. So even though God wasn't mentioned, His presence was there. His light still shined, and people began to believe. So He still is victorious without showing up. He's still victorious without His name being said, and He still reigned, and then He still conquered.

Tammy 1:01:12

That is exactly the whole point is that you're right. His name is not mentioned anywhere in the book of Esther yet He's everywhere in the story.

Tony 1:01:18


Tammy 1:01:18

Oh, my gosh. I found this quote, it's by Kathleen Norris. She is a Christian author and poet. And she says, "If holding your ground is what you are called to do most days, it helps to know your ground." That statement is so true for Esther. And so we're going to talk about that and we're going to discuss this quote in the last segment.

Segment 6 1:01:22


Tammy 1:01:43

I started this episode by pointing out that God is nowhere in the story and yet He is everywhere. And Tony, you did a beautiful job of summing that all up for us in that last segment. And so Esther's life did not turn out like she had planned, you know. She’s this orphan living in servitude or enslavement. And her situation appeared to be godless, and yet it wasn't. And it just kind of made me think about our own lives and the people who we know and love and the world that we live in right now. So my question to you, to sum all of this up is, I want to know that when it seems like God is absent from your life, how have you found him? Do you have a story or an experience?

Tony 1:02:19

Want to go back to 2020 when 'Black Lives Matter' first hit our country. The fact that in a 21st century, that we even needed a Black Lives movement was devastating. To have a movement like that take place today in today's time, was crippling. Everyone was on pins and needles and it was so intense everywhere. And so it was like, my son will go someplace. I'm like, he's 30 years. I'm like, Call me when you get there. He wanted to go to Vegas with his friends for one of his friend's 30th birthday. I was like, You're going to drive? Who's goin? You should have seen. He goes, Mom, I need you really to chill out. I'm like, okay. And then one night he was there and I couldn't get in touch with him. So he's still on my phone plan; I went on to the AT & T phone plan and I found one of his friend's phone numbers. And I texted him. I said, Hey, this is David's Mom, are you guys okay? Did you make it? So just that whole thing was like, oh, rough, but it was so heavy.

I questioned God. Maybe I didn’t one of his favorites? I didn't feel His presence moving fast enough or powerful enough, especially when you watch news or social media and get wrapped up in that. And so I and so I had to stop, remove myself from a lot of things. Because I found myself agitated and questioning. Not the old questioning some of the things and asking God why, but questioning is this really a part of Your great plan? And how could You love me and love people so much that this is still happening today? And so what I do and what I did, and I still do it, I have to go back to my first love. I love worship. I love prayer. That's my thing. God speaks to me thru worship and prayer. There's healing in worship, there's deliverance, there's power. There's affirmation, there's revelation in worship. And so I had to stop myself and say, What has brought you thus far? Go back to your first love and your relationship with God. And so I went back and I started listening to my worship music, allowing that seed of God love to be planted in my heart, in my mind again, and renewing and regroupin' my spirit, resetting my heart to do the right thing.

So when I'm all over place. And that was a prime example because it went on not just for like a day, I still had a lot of great days to be honest with you during that timeframe. But things were just still so heavy. And so I just went back into prayer and worship. And then at that time, it allowed me and it helped me and assisted me. And it pushed me, I promise you ladies, to go right back to my Father's arms, to trust Him again. And to know that without Him, I can't make it. And who I fought to become, and what He's done inside of me, I was almost losing that. And I had to regroup and go back. So prayer and worship is my go-to, and it's like deliverance, understanding. I'm ready to go. It's like, notice they do this theme song. "I'm every woman". That's kind of my thing. I can put up praise and worship songs. I'm like, I'm it. Here we go. So that's what, I'm making this long, that's my that's my

Laurel 1:05:54

I love that Tony.

Tammy 1:05:55

It wasn't long. Yeah, it was stuff that we needed. Brilliant. Thank you. Laurel, how do you find Him? Or have you found Him when He hasn't felt present?

Laurel 1:06:05

When you asked the question, I was trying to think where this came from, for me, but I have always been a pray-er, or whatever that word is. I truly don't remember a time in my life when I wasn't a pray-er. So I have a very distinct memory. I was in my early 30s and there were so many things going wrong in my life at the time. And I remember walking into my little townhouse, and I couldn't even make it up the stairs to my bedroom. There was a little chair in the landing. And I remember just falling to my knees at that chair. The only word I could say was Father.

I don't know how long, I knelt by that chair and just sobbed and wept. But because of my life experiences I knew do not get off your knees until you know He knows you're here. Like that is my thing. I refuse to get up until I feel Him or until I know He knows I'm there. That has proven true a handful of very sacred times in my life. And that happened to be one of them. I know that is not everybody's experience. I don't know why it's mine except that I think He knows I need one lifeline. Like I need one thing I can always count on. And for whatever reason prayer is mine. I have faith. That's awesome. LAUREL

Tammy 1:07:51

That's awesome, Laurel. And what Laurel taught and what Tony have taught is absolutely truth. And I love how the Spirit is there telling us right now it's truth. Like we just have a good peaceful feeling. And I'm so grateful that that's how the Spirit manifests itself. And I couldn't help but think, Laurel, as you were telling us that story because it's my favorite thing I've learned from you is, if that's the only thing you can say is Father, that's prayer enough. And then it makes me think of the Savior, When he enters Gethsemane, the first thing he says is ABA. And that is Father in Hebrew. And who knows how long it took Him to utter the rest of the words, if all He did was fall on His knees and say Father or Daddy. That's what it actually translates as in Hebrew. He, that was His Father moment, and it works. If that's all you can do is say His name then do it. So I think that's awesome. Thank you so much. I use that several times in talks, your experience. So thank you. Thank you, ladies. That's the end of our discussion of Esther. We're done.

Laurel 1:08:04

Thank you.

Tammy 1:08:17

That was so powerful.

Laurel 1:08:47

I learned so much

Tony 1:08:48

Serious. You guys carried it so much; thank you for having me.

Tammy 1:08:53

So good. It was so good. So take a minute and gather your thoughts and look over everything we discussed. And do you have a takeaway? Is there anything in our discussion today that you're like, Oh, I'm gonna remember that or write that down or anything.

Tony 1:09:04

The one thing that stands out to me is, Laurel was speaking about, or "If you were Esther, you would have said: 'Guess what's happening? This is what's going down. I want you to know, and this is what's doing it.' But she was patient, she stayed to the plan, she stayed focused. And she did not deter no matter what was happening. Even in her fear she kept trusting God, even though she didn't know the outcome. But she knew the temper of her husband, she kept trusting God. So that's my takeaway. When you guys spoke about that timeframe I was like, wow. Don't always be anxious in everything you do. And there's a time and a place for everything. And you don't always have to put people on the forefront to confront them. Sometimes you have to have a dinner on the side; create a different atmosphere. Wait for God to move and control yourself, control your temper. As women in general, we're just moved by emotions and we jump, and we leap. And then we go, Oh, I fell. And so I love that part of the story which stands out to me that she didn't jump. And she didn't leap. And she was afraid. And she was concerned. And she was, had pressure from Mordecai. And then the weight of the people in her own life, but she stayed the course and she was patient. And she said, God, I'm gonna walk this through, I'm going to set the scene, and you do the rest. So I love that.

Laurel 1:10:17

I love that

Tony 1:10:18

I do too, I'm just putting that down. "Sometimes you need to have a dinner."

A dinner on the side it's gonna be.

Laurel 1:10:55

I think my takeaway, honestly, was Tony, you sharing what God did for you after the suicide of your first husband. And that quote of "God makes a way out of no way". I think too often I don't see that. And I realized as you were sharing that the because you see it, you see it always now. And I just want to see it more often in my life.

Tammy 1:11:20

That was mine; that we've known Tony this long and I did not know that part of her story. And it will always be a testament to me, God makes a way out of no way. It was so good. I have so many takeaways. Because then I love the part Laurel, where you taught us about the weight of "If I perish, I perish". How many times have I told this story? A million. The gravity of that statement is just, I'm so grateful you pointed that out. And then Tony's text; that's in my scriptures forever. I just think that's so cool. And "be the best First Lady for your son or daughter". I mean, that hit me, that hit me hard. That was so good. I love you guys. Now this was, this is so just fun.

Laurel 1:11:56

Thank YOU.

Tammy 1:11:57

Thank you for coming prepared. You guys are awesome. We are just so excited to hear what your big takeaway is from this episode. So if you haven't already joined our discussion group on Facebook or Instagram, just go do it. Sign up. It's so cool because everybody shares what they're learning throughout the week and sometimes they ask questions, and I just love this community for Sunday on Monday. And then on the Saturday we do a post asking for what your big takeaway was from this episode. So comment on the post that relates to this specific lesson and let us know what you've learned. I love reading what you've learned, it is so empowering. You can get to both our Facebook and Instagram by going to the show notes for this episode on LDS and go there anyway because that's where we're gonna have a link to the references and we have a complete transcript of this whole discussion so go check it out.

The Sunday on Monday Study Group is a Deseret Bookshelf Plus original brought to you by LDS Living. It's written and hosted by me Tammy Uzelac Hall, and today our fabulous study group participants were Tony Ragsdale and Laurel Christensen Day. And you can find more information about these friends at LDS Our podcast is produced by Katie Lambert and me. It is edited by Haley Higham, and it is recorded and mixed by Mix at Six Studios, and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next week. And you better remember you're in good company with Tony, Laurel and me because

You are God's favorite

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