“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Vashti or Esther?, by Randy & Gini Kittle

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One night, after we had prayed about the bride of Christ during our evening prayer time, Randy had a dream in which the Lord said, “Tell My bride to examine their hearts and ask themselves which queen are they behaving like — Vashti or Esther?” As we have contemplated this powerful inquiry from the Lord, this is what the Lord revealed.

It’s All About The Approach
When Randy used to play a lot of golf, he never scored as well as he wanted to (does anyone really?). Though he could hit the ball a long way and was constantly working on his putting — going to the course early to practice or buying another new putter, it was normally his approach shot that got him into trouble and ruined his score. Great drives and crisp putting are important, but having the wrong approach can still cause you to lose the game.

It is the same in many areas of life. Countless first dates never happened because the young man’s approach was too clumsy or too forward. Numerous job inquiries never got anywhere because the approach used to present them was so poorly executed. And how many potential business proposals have been rejected because of the poor approach utilized in their presentation? More than most of us would care to know or remember.

Both Vashti and Esther wanted to have something that was important to them that went against the edict of the king. Vashti did not want to have to go to the banqueting hall and be paraded around like a prize in front of the king’s inebriated friends and colleagues. Esther wanted the judgment against the Jewish people (of whom she was a part) rescinded. Neither request was unwarranted. In fact, both requests were good and reasonable. No respectable woman wants to be perceived as a trophy wife to be shown off like a pet before a drunken crowd. And no one in their right mind would sit idly by and watch all of their people be destroyed and their life put in peril. But the stark difference in their results was due, at least in part, to the very different way in which they were presented.

With Familiarity Fear Fades
As we look at the biblical record, we see a vast difference between how Vashti “approached” the king and how Esther did. Vashti, whose name means “beautiful one,” had been queen for quite a period of time before her fateful night. Living in the palace, she had become accustomed to life as a queen — being waited on, pampered, and always having her way. She had also become familiar with the king, and this familiarity resulted in her developing a casual attitude toward the king’s majestic reign. Eventually, this familiarity made her flippant toward his command — to a place where she thought it was all right to say no to the king. While she might have had grounds to petition the king to reconsider his demeaning command, she had no right to just say no to the sovereign king. But that was just what she decided to do, and it was the last decision she would ever make as queen. “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded … seven eunuchs who served in the presence of King Ahasuerus to bring Queen Vashti before the king, wearing her royal crown, in order to show her beauty to the people and the officials, for she was beautiful to behold. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s command brought by his eunuchs; therefore the king was furious, and his anger burned within him” (Esther 1:10–12).

Vashti didn’t just deny her husband’s request. She said “No” to the order of the king. Somehow her familiarity caused her to forget the absolute, supreme sovereignty of Ahasuerus. This was far more than saying, “Not tonight honey.” The king who ruled everything for more than a thousand miles in every direction had commanded her into his presence. Anything but immediate acquiescence to his decree was to show him contempt, to question his absolute authority. The Scriptures tell us that her flat out refusal to the king’s command was seen by the King and his advisor as despising the king and showing him contempt (verses 17 & 18). Truly, for Vashti, familiarity had bred contempt.

With Familiarity We Lose Perspective
When Vashti first became queen, she must have been overwhelmed by the favor she had attained in arising to such a height. She was now the wife of King Ahasuerus, the ruler of Persia, Babylon, Egypt and beyond — arguably the most powerful man in the entire world. How small she must have felt inside next to this “all-powerful” ruler. But it is funny how time changes things. What once seemed extraordinary and luxurious soon becomes common and expected. Over time, familiarity made the king seem far less powerful and intimidating, and pride began to make Vashti see herself as so much more than she had ever realized. Soon, Vashti perceived herself as equal, or nearly equal, to the king.

The same thing happens in the spiritual realm. Those who become accustomed to the Lord’s blessing, and become overly familiar with the Lord, often end up in prideful disobedience to Him. King Saul went from appearing smaller than he was in his own eyes, to seeing himself as more than he was when he disobeyed the Lord by not completely destroying the Amalekites and their possessions.
“So Samuel said, ‘When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the Lord anoint you king over Israel? … Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?” (1 Samuel 15:17 & 19). This was not the first time Saul knowingly disobeyed the Lord. In 1 Samuel 13 Saul makes an unlawful sacrifice to the Lord because the prophet Samuel had not come, and the people were beginning to scatter. Saul feared the people more than he feared God because the favor God had showed Him was turning into pride. In a few short years Saul turned from thinking “Who am I to be king?” (little in his own eyes), to thinking “I’m the king, who does God think He is telling me what to do and making me wait?”

We must learn this important lesson from the lives of Vashti and Saul: even if you are royalty, and given much, do not lose humility. The results can be deadly. Similarly, even though we are the Bride of Christ — betrothed to the King over all kings, we must never forget that we have come from the place of being humble sinners. It is only by the mercy and grace of God that we have inherited the privilege of being made like Him. Yes, humility will help us remember that while we have been made like God, He
is God! Humility is the vaccine that will immunize us … protecting us from the deadly pride that causes us to lose the fear of the Lord.

Selfishness vs. Selflessness
Esther also came before the king against his declared will. But this was not because familiarity had birthed a disregard for his sovereignty. Esther’s attitude was not selfish; it was selfless. She came before the king not with arrogant assertion that the king was wrong, but with a hopeful, humble intercession that the king would want to find a higher way — would want to find a way to more fully display his loving, noble character. Because the edict to eliminate the Jews was about to become law, she was forced to approach the king before she was summoned. Like Vashti, she knew that what she was doing was a violation of the king’s sovereign authority and that, as such, she was risking her life. But unlike Vashti, she wasn’t disregarding his rule or dictating to the king, “You can’t do this!” Her reverence of the king must have been apparent in her approach, for the king, seeing that he was not being despised or disrespected, quickly extended his scepter and spared her life.

When Esther came before the king, it was with humility and trepidation imploring the king “This isn’t what you want to do. Display your love for me and the true splendor of your majestic reign and make a higher way!”
“If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request” (Esther 7:3).

Esther came with a heart, not of accusation, but of intercession. As such, her actions reflect a select group of God’s friends — those intercessors who are close to God and desire His will, yet stand in the gap and wrestle with God in prayer. There were only two people in the Old Testament God referred to as His friend: Abraham and Moses. Though God’s friends by His own admission, both of these men stood against God’s declared will and called out to Him for a greater display of His mercy. When Abraham heard of God’s judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah, he petitioned God for leniency. Though asking God to change, or lessen, His declared judgment, listen to how this friend of God called for His compassion.
“Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked … who am but dust and ashes … Let not the Lord be angry …” (Genesis18:25,27,30). Do you hear Abraham’s heart for God’s character to be upheld to its highest? Can you hear the humility of God’s friend as he entreats the Lord on behalf of those who stand in judgment?

We see Moses doing the same thing when the people sinned against God by making the golden calf (see Exodus 32). God told Moses that the just punishment for the children of Israel was annihilation. But Moses, the friend of God, cried out to the Lord for mercy, that they might be spared. Moses didn’t brazenly declare to God that He was wrong. During Moses’ petitioning for mercy, his cry was not, “You can’t do this!” It was more, “There is a better way than giving them the just punishment they deserve, for they are Your people whom You have rescued. Let not Your name be defamed, and Your promise to the patriarch’s be broken.”

With a longing heart, God is looking for true friends who, with reverent awe of Him, will nevertheless intercede for those who face judgment; for He is a judge who wants mercy to overcome the judgment He must declare. When the Lord saw the sin of His people in the day of Ezekiel, even in the midst of declaring the judgment that they were due, His heart was still longing for someone to cry out to Him and spend themselves as intercessors so His mercy could triumph over His judgment.
“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).

There is a fine line between the true friends of God who please His heart as they humbly wrestle with Him in intercession, and those who, like Vashti, have lost sight of God’s supreme sovereignty and discard His commands or talk back to the Lord. To a great extent, the answers to our petitions we place before the Lord are dependent on us having the right attitude on how we approach Him.
While we are both His friends and His beloved bride, we must never forget that He is the sovereign Lord.

Vashti or Esther?
So will we follow in the footsteps of Esther? Or will we be like the rebellious Vashti, who lost her place beside the king? We would all like to say the first, but have we ever wondered — who does God think He is that we should obey Him completely, instantly, and without question? Some may be scared to even think such a question out loud, but their actions and attitudes reveal that this question is in their hearts.

“Who does God think He is?” … we don’t have to wonder who He is, for the Bible readily answers that question. The Scriptures tell us plainly that God is worthy of our worship and service because He is the one true God.
“I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 44:6). According to the Bible our God is infinite, eternal, immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, and unchanging. God is worthy to be feared and awed, for He is:
• The Creator of all things“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord” (Psalm 33:6-8).
• The Father of the fatherless“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy” (Psalm 68:5).
• A consuming Fire“For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
• Filled with Lovingkindness“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7).
• The righteous Judge of all things“Let the heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge” (Psalm 50:6).
• Ever merciful“Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:26).

God is ruler over all! In Revelation we are told that
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” He is so worthy; He is the first, the last, and everything in between. There is nothing God cannot do, and nothing happens without Him knowing about it. Look to God as He is, and not as the world would make Him out to be. There is no one who even comes close to His majestic greatness. We could spend our lifetimes studying Him and not even scratch the surface of His infinite magnitude!

Have we become so familiar with our salvation that we are more like Vashti, having a familiar and almost flippant attitude toward the Creator God of the Universe? Or, like Esther, do we have a reverent awe of our majestic Bridegroom who is the King of kings? Let us choose wisely, the answer is of eternal importance!


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