Come Follow Me Insights – Esther: Finding God in the Book of Esther – powered by Happy Scribe
And this is Book of Mormon Central’s Come, Follow Me Insights.
Today, the book of Esther.
And we’re kind of flying in missing man formation.
Taylor is out of town this week, but what a privilege to welcome Sister Joy D. Jones to be our guest as we cover this book of scripture called Esther.
So as we jump into the story of Esther, let’s just talk through a couple of the things that make this particular book fairly unique, not just in the Old Testament, but in all of Scripture. So what are some things that come to mind?
Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is the hiddenness of God, because throughout the chapters of Esther, I counted over 50 times that we see Esther’s name, and I counted over 50 times that we see Haman’s name, both key characters in this story. But God is not mentioned once.
Interesting, which is very rare. I mean, here it is, a book of the Bible, and you don’t get his name one time. And so it makes you think, well, then, is the book inspired or does it be long? Does it fit in? Or is it not really scripture? Is it safe to say that God is kind of incognito here? He’s kind of behind the scenes, he’s kind of hidden. You have to look for these things and you’re going to find a whole series of little circumstances that might look like happenstance, like a coincidence that they all line up almost as if an invisible hand is putting some dominoes in place for the right moment to then unfold this beautiful story.
That’s such a good prelude, because that allows you to watch. Now as we go through these chapters, watch for those moments. Watch for those experiences. The kids are there.
Yeah. One of the other things about Esther is when Joseph Smith came to this book in his translation process, as he is revising the Bible, this is one of a very small handful of books, ironically, including Ruth is another one where Joseph Smith didn’t make a single change. There are no JST footnotes, and there’s no additions or subtractions in his manuscript of the translation of the Bible. So pretty fascinating.
So, Sister Jones, something else that’s fascinating in this book is the place that Esther takes in the history of the House of Israel. She would be compared to some other characters that we’d be very familiar with. Symbolically.
Yes. She’s really a counterpart to Joseph, sold into Egypt. If you think about the fact that both of them were well received by a king, they actually went before a king and were very fondly received. And we’ll talk more about that.
And because of that, she’s going to be able to deliver all of the Israelites who happen to be living there. And quite frankly, this is probably a good spot to help us understand where she fits, because Esther, you have all of the five books of Moses, the Torah, those Genesis, Exodus, Viticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. And then you get into the history portion where it starts with Joshua, Judges, Ruth, then the two books of Samuel, then the two books of Kings, and then the Chronicles are a retelling of that same time period. As part of that history. You’ll remember the ten tribes got carried away captive to the north by Assyria back in 721. Then you get the southern two tribes getting carried away captive to Babylon at the time, right after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem. Well, then Babylon gets overthrown by Persia. And when Persia comes to town, they then send some of the Jesus back to rebuild Jerusalem. The reality is most of the Jews did not return. Most of them actually stay in Babylon and start spreading up into Persia and Media, which is where our story takes place today. So this group coming back was the story of Ezra and Nehemiah, and now we get the story of Esther, which is taking place up in here.
Esther is the very last book of our history books, so she’s one of the latest stories that’s going to take place in the Old Testament after Esther. Now we jump into the section of the Old Testament called the Prophets, and now we’re going to go back into time, into the Samuel on Kings and Chronicles time period. And we’re all oliver the map between Israel and Judah, and the timeline goes out the window once we leave the book of Esther. So she is our final historical book, the last one to take place. And she’s in this group that didn’t go back to Jerusalem and surrounded by lots of Jews who aren’t, quote unquote, home in Jerusalem. And yet the Lord is going to work through her to preserve this Brandt of the house of Israel from destruction. So that’s kind of the overview of where we are as we jump into chapter one.
Let’s jump in to chapter one, where we see King Osiris, ruler over from India to Ethiopia. There were 127 provinces, and he gathered all the leaders and had a great celebration. And actually 180 days, that’s quite a celebration.
I don’t know if you throw a party that lasts a half a year, but this guy, he’s trying to show how rich and how prosperous he is. Well, 180 day feast will do it.
That was a pretty good celebration. So with that celebration came a great deal of wine. It says in verse seven, gave them drink in vessels of gold and royal wine in abundance. So much drinking is going on and suddenly the king decides, I’d really like my wife to come. I want to show everyone her beauty. So Vashdi is contacted by seven of his chamberlains that serve the king. They go and say, the king wants you to come. For some reason, she chose not to be obedient. She said, no, and it’s in verse eleven to bring Vashi, the Queen before the king, with the crown royal, to show the people and the princess her beauty, for she was fair to look on, but Vashi refused to come at the king’s commandment. And the interesting thing is that that is surprising stubbornness in that day.
Oh, boy. In that time period, in that culture.
It was very dangerous, actually, and women were meant to be subservient to men at that time. So she was making a point, and I see it in two different ways. She could have just said, I don’t want to. She was having a feast with all the women, and maybe she said, no, you have your party, I’ll have mine. But I think it was more than that. I think she realized that all of these men were drinking, that her appearance in that room would be somewhat uncomfortable, somewhat inappropriate, perhaps. The women of the Middle East are very modest in their behavior and their dress, and I just don’t think she felt comfortable going and being a showpiece.
That’s a good point. It’s fascinating as you look through the history of time and the different cultures throughout those various dynasties and kingdoms and monarchies, how different races of people were treated and how different genders, how they interact. And I guess what I could say is think heaven that we live in the dispensation of the fullness of times where we have Restoration scripture that teaches this doctrine that all are alike unto God, black and white, bond and free, male and female. And it was never intended to be a superior, inferior kind of relationship between the genders. And what a blessing to live today with living prophets who teach us to strive for equal partnerships in marriage, for instance. There’s not a lot of equal partnership going on in chapter one here in this culture. And your point is a really valid one, that Mary Be Vastly is a woman a little bit ahead of her time, or a lot ahead of her time, saying, no, this isn’t appropriate, and I’m not going to do it.
And I think it’s key to remember here is one of those moments where our Heavenly Father, his fingerprints were there because it opened the way for Esther. That had to happen in order for Esther to eventually become the Queen because Vastly was removed. These men were very upset, these leaders were upset and said, we’ve got to do something about this because she’s setting a really bad precedent. We don’t want all of the women of the land seeing her saying no to the king and then them thinking, well, I can do the same with my husband. And so they said, We’ve got to do something about this.
And so they depose of vasti, so she’s removed. And so this is one of those dominoes that is put in place, and we can learn lessons from each one of these individual elements of the story. But at the end of the day, even though God isn’t mentioned in this book anywhere, you’re seeing his hand, you’re seeing the fingerprints, as you said. I love that you can see signs of Him doing his work from behind the scenes. So now we get to chapter two. And thus begins the process of hospitals trying to seek a new queen. So he seeks out all the fair virgins in all the land, starting in verse two, and they’re collecting all of these young maidens.
It’s a thing of a beauty contest.
Yeah. And in verse five, it says, now in Shushan, the palace, there was a certain Jew whose name was Mordecai, and it tells you that he’s a Benjamite. Remember that southern kingdom of Judah has largely tribe of Judah and Benjamin. Well, in this case, Mordecai is a Benjamin, and he had been carried away from Jerusalem, his ancestors, and notice what he’s done. In verse seven, he brought up Hadassa, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter. So in the King James version, it would make Esther his cousin. In other translations, it shows her as being his niece. I think it’s safe to say she’s a close relative.
Yes. So Esther comes forth, then she becomes one of these very young virgins that is being prepared to come before the king. And she was brought into the king’s house. And I wanted to note in the end of verse eight, to the custody of Hagi, keeper of the women, and the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him. And as you read through this chapter, you see how she influenced all the people that met her. They felt her kindness, they felt her goodness, and they liked her. They were very fond of her. And then at the end of verse nine, it says, he preferred her and her mates unto the best place of the house of the women. So she’s already making an impression. She’s standing out in a very special way.
And the amazing thing is, nobody has any idea that she’s a Jew. They don’t know her background. Because keep in mind, back then there have been so many conquests between Egypt and Assyria and Babylon and Persia and Media and the Philistines on the far west and Moab and Edom. And it’s this mixture and milieu of all these different peoples and nationalities at this point, they don’t know, and quite frankly, they don’t seem to care. But there’s something different about Esther. She stands out, as you said.
So all of these fair virgins are brought to the palace and from all stations, and they gather there, and they are to stay there for twelve months. They call it purification must be accomplished. And also part of that experience for them was learning the ways of the court. They had to learn how to behave in a palace. That was a big job. So it was interesting to me that in verse 13, then thus came every maiden unto the king. Whatsoever she desired was given to her to go with her out of the house of the women and to the king’s house. So I’m assuming you pick out all the jewelry or the beautiful linens or gowns or whatever it was that they felt would make them beautiful. But in verse 15, it says, Esther required nothing. She required nothing. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her. So Esther was taken into the king.
Which, by the way, Joy, this is a good point to pause and think about the world that we live in. Kind of does a similar thing as what’s going on here. There are a lot of decorations that the world offers us, and it’s not always having to do with beauty. Sometimes it’s accolades of the world. It’s money, it’s position, it’s titles, it’s socioeconomic status, and they give you all these things that you can pursue and you can put on. I love this story because the deliverer of the story, this Cinderella story, if you will, an orphaned girl who’s a Jew, nobody really knows her, comes out of the blue, and she’s not drawn to all of that that the world is offering her. She seems comfortable in her own skin. She seems to be content with who she is. And for the young women and young men in the church today. I think that’s a pretty powerful message for us. Is to not seek our praise and our beauty and the things that the world offers. Because. Boy. It’s offering it. But to rather turn to the Lord and get our marching orders from Him.
And to be comfortable with who we are moving forward. Doing the things that are within our power to accomplish.
Wow. Sad. And my assumption is that they weren’t accustomed to seeing that. And that’s probably why she stood out so much, because she was peaceful and at ease with who she was and didn’t need those outer things to make her feel whole.
Look at the beautiful wording in verse 17. And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the Virgins. Again, like you said earlier, with the example of Joseph and Egypt, to gain great favor by the king, which then opens all kinds of doors down the road to save an entire group of her extended family, these tribes of Israel that are there still in exile. So he makes his decision. He set upon her head the royal crown, and he made her queen instead of Ashti. Then he makes another great feast. Wow. This king likes feasting.
Does he really does. Yes. Good food.
So they all gathered together, and verse 20 gives us a hint. Esther had not yet showed her kindred, nor her people, as Mordecai had charged her. Mordecai had told her, don’t tell them who you really are. Keep that a secret for Esther. Did the commandment of Mordecai like his when she was brought up with him? So here she is. She’s the new queen, and nobody has any idea what her background and her nationality are, which then sets the stage for another domino. Whoever is telling the story, they’re intentionally putting things in place, and sometimes they have to kind of take a tangent to get a domino in place. These last few verses of chapter two are one of those tangents. It seems kind of out of place. We were just talking about Esther getting this, and all of a sudden we jump out to the gate with Mordecai.
Oh, but it’s so exciting. This was not an accident. This was a really key step in this story. While Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains were talking, and he overheard them because they were plotting to kill the king. So Mordecai gets a message to Esther to make sure that Esther knows so she can warn the king. Interesting. This will play very importantly as we continue through the story. When Inquisition was made in verse 23, it was found out, therefore, both of these men were hanged on a tree, and it was written in the book of the Chronicles before the king. And that’s key to remember as well.
That’s right. That little detail. Well, of course I got written. Who cares? Well, if I hadn’t gotten written, then the rest of the miracle down the road wouldn’t be able to play out because there’s going to be a night when the king won’t be able to sleep and somebody’s going to read this to him. So just hold that thought as we now jump into chapter three.
So this is where Hayman enters.
Every good story needs a villain.
And Hayman is about as good of a or as badly bad as bad of a villain as you’re going to see this guy. He’s a work. You’ll notice he is an Agagua. Now, the last time you heard about Agag or this group of people, they’re Canaanites, who were in the land of Canaan when the children of Israel came through the Jordan River with Joshua, and they’re part of this group that was supposed to be driven out of the land. You think there might be some cultural clashing when this agigate is going to eventually find out that Mordecai is a Jew, this group that tried to displace them from off of their land in Canaan, he’s not going to be a fan of the Jewish people, as we see in the rest of this story. So what happens in verse two? It says, all the king’s servants that were in the king’s gate bowed and reverenced Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. Which. By the way. Just as a side note. If you ever find yourself in a situation of power and you want people to show their reverence to you by bowing down to you or paying some sort of obesity to you.
Then I would just say. Be really careful. Because the only people we know in scriptures who demand that kind of thing are usually types and shadows of the devil. Because that’s all Satan never wanted in the pre mortal life in the first place. Was for us to give him all of the power. All of the glory. And to lift him up at our expense. And that seems so Mordecai not bowing down. It’s almost this defiance to the devilish tactic that Hayman is playing out here. I want the power. I want people to bow down to me, and he’s not going to give it to him.
No. And I think Mordecai, he was a good man, and he honored and loved the Lord. He was a faithful Jew, and there was no way he would submit to worshipping another man. That was not in his nature to do that. He knew who he worshiped and who he would reverence, and it was not Haman.
And you can imagine one of those the first time it happens, it’s like, okay, maybe he didn’t understand the second time. The third time, and it’s happening multiple times. You can picture them asking, Why are you bowing down? This is Hayman. You have to bow down to him. And eventually they figure out he probably told them, because I’m a Jew and I refuse to bow down to anybody but my God. At the bottom of verse four, it tells you that he had told them that he was a Jew. Well, at that point, something switches for Hayman. When Haman saw that Mordecai bowed, not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. Are you noticing in scriptures, whenever you get people who are progressing along the covenant path, trying to become more like Jesus, they’re going to become more peacemaking, they’re going to be more merciful, more longsuffering, kinder, gentler, more firm when needed, but it’s never in a wrathful way. But when people turn themselves over to the influence of the adversary, it often leads them down this path to become more like him. And you’re watching that happen right in front of our very eyes here on this page, that Haman becomes full of wrath.
Well, that’s a word that scriptures described. Lucifer. When his offering isn’t accepted up in heaven, his countenance fell and he becomes angry and filled with wrath. So perhaps a little invitation to all of us is consider, as we move forward in our relationships, the degree to which we allow ourselves to continually get stirred up in wrath and in anger. Versus my favorite primary song, I’m trying to be like Jesus in all that I do and say. It just has a totally different feeling to it.
And our prophet is teaching us to avoid conflict and wrath and anger and hatred. We just heard that so beautifully from him.
So he takes out, check this out, he has an issue with one man, so what does he do? He then multiplies and it extends it out. Verse six, and he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone, for they had showed him the people of Mordecai, wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasurs, even the people of Mordecai. So now he’s going to take his hatred for one man and extend it out to everybody that that man now represents, his whole tribe, so to speak, of not just Benjamin, but Judah, the whole kingdom of these Israelites, they’ll live that’s wrath, that’s unbridled wrath, right? And now you get introduced to how he picks the timeline for when he’s going to set forth his plan to destroy them. In verse seven, it tells you that he cast poor, they cast some dice or they cast some lots to randomly pick, what month are we going to set up to destroy the Jews? And it just happened to be the 12th month way down the road from where they currently are. And you say, well, that was just coincidence, the dice were really nice to them, or are the Lord’s fingerprints on that one as well?
Again, it happens. It turns into a great blessing because it provides time for Esther and Mordecai and the Jews. Now, it’s interesting because Haman saw it, though, as a positive, because he thought, oh, the Jews will be afraid when they find out that they’re going to be killed. And so many of them will just pick up and leave. They’ll hurry away and move away and leave all of their possessions, and then I can go and capture those and bring them to the king’s treasury.
So with all of this master plan going on his mind, he doesn’t have the authority to pass the law and he doesn’t give all of the details to the king. He just goes to him and he says, notice the wording here in verse eight. There is a certain people scattered abroad. He doesn’t say which group or where they’re from or what they’re doing specifically. He just says they’re dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom. And you saw how widespread this kingdom is and their laws are diverse from all people. Neither keep they the king’s laws, therefore it is not for the king’s prophet to suffer them. And so he talks the king into passing this law and the king just gives him his ring, the signet to sign into law. Do whatever you want to do with that group of people. They sound like a nuisance. Let’s take care of it. So Hayman’s master plan is now put into place with the date on the calendar in verse twelve, saying then were the king scribes called on the 13th day of the first month. And there was written according to all that Hayman had commanded under the king’s lieutenants.
So we’re in that first month, and because of the poor that was cast, the lot that was cast, we now know that in the 12th month, and keep in mind they use a lunar cycle, a lunar calendar, 28 day month in most of these ancient settings. So it gives us that time. And they now send out that law to all parts of the province, and all of the Jews get the word that the clock is ticking for you.
May I read that in verse 13? It’s so profound to destroy, to kill, and to cause perish all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the 13th day of the 12th month. It was genocide is what they were really considering.
This is probably a good place to pause and take a little time out and point out, if we’re not careful, what ends up happening. When we read scripture like this in the Old Testament or even in the Book of Mormon or the New Testament. We can get so excited about the details and the facts from thousands of years ago. Thousands of miles away that we could get so enthralled there that we miss some of the power of Scripture. Which is when you don’t just see the fingerprints of God or this invisible hand setting up these dominoes for Esther and Mordecai. But those should become placeholders types and shadows for your life right here. Right now. Today. To say. Wait a minute. Our God changes not. And he does his work throughout time in a variety of ways, some of them really open and miraculous and some very subtle and very behind the scenes. So as we continue through this story, we hope that somewhere in all of this, you’re seeing in your own world that we live in today, where God has been setting up dominoes in your life to prepare you for some things.
And maybe it feels bizarre, some of the things that have been happening to you recently or in the past, but if you plead with heaven for eyes to see and for a heart to feel and to recognize, then you’re more likely to see the hand of God guiding and shaping your life just as it did theirs all these years ago.
That’s beautiful. So Mordecai hears the news. He rents his clothes and puts on sackcloth with ashes and is mourning a bitter cry, and he came before the king’s gate. And so news gets out. There’s mourning among the Jews, fasting and weeping and wailing, and many in sack, cloth and ashes. So in verse four, esther’s maids in her chamberlains come, and they tell her what’s happening. So she finds out about Mordecai, and she sends Raymond to clothe Mordecai and to take away his sackcloth from him, but he received it not. And then in verse five, then called Esther for one of the king’s chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai to know what it was. Why is this? What’s happening? And so Mordecai tells him of everything that’s happening, the sum of money that Heman has promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews if the Jews are destroyed. And also he gave him a copy of the writing of the decree. Esther sees it and then is charged that she should go in unto the king to make supplication unto him and to make a request before him for her people.
Now, this is where it gets pretty interesting, really, honestly. This is the part of the story where, if you only know a few details about Esther and her story, it’s probably from these last five, six, seven verses of chapter four. This is really kind of the crux of the whole story where Esther has some pretty major, quite frankly, life threatening decisions to make.
It could have been death.
Yeah. And keep in mind, it hasn’t been that long since she knows that she replaced Bash T. Yes.
She could be very present on her mind. Yes.
And this king doesn’t seem to be really steady and very methodical, and his thinking seems to maybe be a little more sporadic and a bit unpredictable at times. And so it’s going to add to the complexity here of what’s going to now happen.
Okay, so here we are. Esther, then, is she knows and let’s go to verse eleven. All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces do know that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court. Who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king should hold out the golden scepter that he may live. But I have not been called to come in with the king these 30 days, so she was probably feeling a little bit overlooked, maybe questioning a little bit what the king’s feelings were about her. But she knew the law, and that was a frightening thing to think, I’m being asked to go before the king without being called and without seeing him for 30 days. But then, what’s so stirring is Mordecai’s words in verse 13, Mordecai commanded to answer esther, think not with thyself. Thou shalt escape in the king’s house more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall their enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy Father’s house shall be destroyed.
And who enos whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? I have heard that question since I was a little girl and loved Esther for that very question.
So this is fascinating to me, Joy, because as you have studied this book of this incredible woman from 30 years ago, the fact is, She came. She was sent from heaven to the earth for such a time as this. But the amazing thing is, you were sent to the Earth for such a time as this, and you’ve been able to do some pretty remarkable things. And I’m curious if there’s any sense of the spirit of Esther that you could share with us. Where you’ve gone into situations. Whether it be go to a foreign country or go speak in a general conference. Or go into a meeting with profit steers and revelators. Or meet with little children in a little Brandt of some obscure corner of the world where you felt like. I can’t do this. But then the sense of you’re not going in alone, you have God on your side.
That’s right. That’s right. I have seen it in many places in the world, and I have had so many sisters come to me and say, I have been feeling impressed to do something something that’s a little bit outside their comfort zone or something outside their normal routine. I could give you a list of all of the things that have been shared with me, but the remarkable thing is it’s in service to our God. They’re trying to find ways to build the kingdom, to gather Israel, to follow the Savior and to bring about this wonderful Zion that we look forward to and prepare for the second coming of our Savior. And it’s so exciting when every woman can put herself in Esther’s place and say, there is no question I am here now for a reason. I have a work to do and to trust that God will guide me in that work. Esther is just our sister. I just can’t wait to meet her and hug her and thank her for that vivid reminder that we all have a purpose here and there are no accidents as to when we came or what I think of her.
She was probably very submissive initially, very propriety and maybe even a little bit shy. I don’t know. She was very obedient to Mordecai. She lived a quiet life, and then suddenly this occasion arises and leadership came out of her, this power, and it was there, but I don’t know if she knew it yet. And through this experience, look at what was accomplished. And there’s so much more. We’re just beginning another row of dominoes because this was the beginning.
If you in your mind, I could picture whatever you think Esther looked like. If you could picture her joining us today, what do you think she might say? Oh, let me tell you how terrible and anxious and fearful this experience was. Do you think she would mention any of that? Or do you think she would say. This was hard. But I wish I had 10,000 lives to give the Lord over and over and over again in situations like this where I had to get out of my comfort zone and go and do something that was very difficult for me and put my trust in the Lord. Even though. Once again. God’s name isn’t being mentioned in this story anywhere. But you feel it. It’s there. There’s this quiet faith in God, this confidence in the Lord, this hope for deliverance that undergirds this entire story that I think if she were standing here, I think she would say, you know what? I could have stayed silent. I could have kept my heritage a secret, and I could have sat back and enjoyed a life of ease in a king’s palace for what, 2030 years most?
Maybe 40 if she’s lucky. And then what if you take all the very finest that this world had to offer back then? She could have just quietly enjoyed that and watched the rest of her people be destroyed and say, well, it seems to be them. I’m not going to put my life on the line, but I love the fact that she’s listening to Mordecai’s reasoning here. Did you like that line when he said, perhaps the deliverance to the juice will arise from another place? In other words, Mordecai is saying, the Jews are going to be delivered. But who knows, Esther? It might be you as a domino in all of their lives. So see here we’ve been talking about the Lord placing dominoes incognito into our life. What if we took the perspective when we go to church or when we go on a ministering visit, or when we fulfill our calling or when we go to work? It doesn’t have to be religiously related. It could be any interaction. What if we took the perspective of, lord, help me to be a domino in a positive direction for people that I interact with today?
What a difference that would make in our wards. In our stakes. In our homes. In our neighborhoods. In our workplaces. At school. Wherever we may find ourselves. If we’re keeping this perspective of who enos. But what I was sent and you were sent and we were all sent to the kingdom for such a time as this.
May I just add that in some of our most difficult decisions. At least. I have found this in my life. That is where the greatest growth comes, and that’s where we discover God. We discover our eternal Father in Heaven in ways that are not possible otherwise. It’s a remarkable thing to look back at hard things. I remember the first time I was preparing to speak in general conference, and I just thought, I will die. I will stand at the pulpit and I will die. But that was not the Lord’s will. He was there to hold me up. He was there to help me do something I couldn’t do. That was not something that I was gifted at, but he allowed me to have that experience, and that’s what he does for all of us. Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone just a little bit. Maybe it’s not risking our life, but maybe it’s speaking up. Well, maybe if I say this, I’ll lose friends. If I speak up for the truth, maybe people won’t like me. It’s different for all of us. But his love and his power is the same with all of us.
He’s there to bless us and enable us to do things that we don’t think we can do.
I love that. Now, these next few verses, they teach another principle that’s kind of vital, I think, for all of us. If we’re really striving to see the hand of the Lord in our life and to be the hand of the Lord in the lives of other people. You’ll notice Esther doesn’t get this prideful or a cocky stance of, give me this mountain, I’ll take care of it. I got this. I got this, everybody. I’m going to be the heroine of the story. I want my name to be the one that’s blast out there. You’ll notice there’s none of that going on with Esther. This experience doesn’t increase her pride. The increase of faith actually decreases her pride and increases her humility and her meekness and her recognition. I can’t do this alone. I need help.
Isn’t it beautiful? I love her 16 so much because she says, go gather together all the Jews that are present in Shouxan and fast g for me. And neither eat you, nor drink three days, nor night or day. Also I and my maidens will fast likewise. Now, see, to me, I thought immediately, there’s my tribe, there are my group of friends. They’re right there to support, strengthen, to fast with me, to pray with me. That is so real. That is so real to me. And so will I go in unto the King, which is not according to the law. Again, recognizing how dangerous this is. And she says, and if I perish, I perish. She was literally saying, I may not live through this, but I am going to be submissive to my Father in heaven. She had to be led by the Spirit. It tells me so much about her character anyway, that she went straight to fasting and prayer. And we all need to combine our faith before we do this. Yes, very humble.
Which, by the way, when you’re struggling with anything in life, it could be health related, it could be spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, relational, financial, any of these struggles. When you invoke the faith of loved ones or those I love, it in your tribe. That circle of people who are with you, they’re in this struggle with you. There’s something powerful about an individual fasting and praying, but there’s something just powerful about a whole group of people uniting their faith, turning heavenward, saying, Please help. We can’t do this alone. We are not our own savior. It was never intended that we fix everything ourselves, independent of Heaven. And so this is this beautiful moment where they all band together and then that concluding statement that she makes, and if I perish, I perish.
Great faith. Great faith.
So, chapter five. Here’s the moment we’ve waited for. So after the third day of fasting. Esther puts on all of her royal apparel. And she went and stood in the inner court of the king’s house. Over against the king’s house. And he was sitting on his royal throne over against the gate of the house. Because keep in mind. In Old Testament times. The king or the ruler or the person who’s in authority always sits at the gate. That’s just the place. And so she’s standing there, and verse two says, and it was so when the king saw Esther, the Queen standing in the court that she obtained favor in his sight. Now, you’ll notice how quickly we went from verse one to two. She’s coming in and she’s standing there a little bit nervous, and he sees her and he’s pleased, and he’s not going to have her killed. And we’re like, oh, okay, well, we’re good. We kind of knew the end of the story, so we weren’t really nervous. But I can tell you that Mordecai and Esther and all of the inner circle of her closest associates and those who had been fasting for her, they were nervous.
They didn’t know what the outcome was going to be. And I love that that as we go through our life. When you find yourself in a trough of life. In a trial. In a tribulation. And you don’t know the end of the story. And it can be nerve wracking and frustrating if instead of focusing on the fear and the anxiety. If we can just keep our focus on the Lord and move forward best we can. Trusting that God knows the end of the story. And he’s probably not up in heaven wringing his hand. Saying. Oh. No. That’s just not the God we worship. The God we worship knows the end from the beginning. And as we give him our life and our heart, then the best case scenario works out. Even if it may not physically work out the way we’d intended it, in this case, it is going to work out the way we want it.
Beautiful application for us, though. Thanks. That’s so powerful. So as I’m listening to you, I’m thinking of someone we love very much, our prophet President Russell M. Nelson, who’s taught us a term, spiritual momentum. Does that apply here today or what? That is what this story is all about, which is also what our Oliver are all about. We are all seeking to gain spiritual momentum as we seek the Lord’s guidance in all that we do, as we trust Him and all that we do. And I want to introduce you to a special guest who’s joining us today. Here I am speaking as a guest. I love welcoming a guest.
This is great.
This is my dear friend, Patty Rochas. And you’ll recognize Patty because she brought rock art to the world in the primary, friend to friend. And she came today to share with you some rock art related to our dear sister Esther.
So before you jump into the rock cart, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Esther for yourself.
Well, as I was listening to Joy and Tyler talk about Esther and how we can all be Esther’s, I thought, that is so true. I was at a point in my life where I was looking for the next thing I needed to do. And I went on this hiking trip, and there were just these beautiful rocks everywhere. I had no experience with rocks, and I picked up the rocks. And that was the beginning of being able to tell the stories of Jesus with rocks and pebbles. So I chose at that moment to pick up the rock. And for such a time as this, who would think to use rocks to testify of Jesus? Each one of us has our own particular situation where there’s a rock before us, there’s a child, there’s a mother, there’s a person to serve, there’s an opportunity. Will we pick it up and testify of Jesus and do our best with that opportunity? I feel like, as you were saying, we’re each Esthers, I thought, we are. No matter how small the opportunity, we all have an opportunity to serve, and we could never plan for it. We could have never guessed that’s what our job or opportunity would be.
But in the moment, we take that opportunity and we do the best we can with our faith and our savior, Jesus Christ.
So this is a unique opportunity we’re going to get to see you do some rock art for this story. Investor I would love that.
So I collected a bunch of rocks, and I thought, well, how do you depict the story? And it’s kind of obvious, right? There’s a king and there’s Mordecai, who I would love to portray, and Esther. And so let’s just build out maybe the king with his scepter, touching Esther and making her safe before him in the court. Now, these are just the stuff that you find out hiking or by rivers, oceans, that’s the favorite place because they’re rounded often, smooth often. But I did find these beautiful, big, chunky rocks. So we’re going to build the king first. And I always like to have a platform to put them on. And I thought this just looked like a neat robe, perhaps turn them around. And we’ll need a head for the king. So if any of you see something that looks like a head for the king, go for it. I’ll put a robe on him. How would we like to robes are usually flat at the back.
That’s like a head with a crown.
Look at that. A head with a crown. See, she’s brilliant. I never would have thought of her.
You found the wrong guy. That would work.
But I chose to go harder and use this. Maybe he had a little bit of hair a little longer back then. And if we were to build a crown, maybe we could just put some triangles on top. Maybe you want to try putting a few, I think, crown beef on there.
This is something I hate to do.
Oh, that’s looking good. Look at that. And if you maybe put the big one in the middle, it might look really cool too.
You’d have to be an artist to know that.
Maybe some hands. These little rocks are in the gravel, and I love to find little rocks for hands and feet. And maybe this could be a foot or a duck’s head, but maybe a foot.
Look how that king just came alive.
Well, I practiced a couple of times when I made it and tried a lot of things, and then we need a scepter for the king. So I just broke this little branch off, and we have a scepter because we know why. Was the scepter important in the story?
Yes, he put the scepter out for her to touch, and she wasn’t expecting that. That’s what she needed to know, that everything was okay, and that was the.
Law at the time. If he didn’t put that chapter out.
Then she was in trouble.
She was a goner. Beautiful rock for maybe a skirt or so many things. Did you turn your rocks around? When I wanted to make Esther, I always pray before I make a piece of rock art, and I had no idea, how could I make a beautiful looking woman in rocks? And I never would have thought of a shawl. But when I put these two rocks together, I thought, oh, my heaven. Isn’t that elegant? So, Heavenly Father, I think he enos angels to organize the rocks. It’s a partnership for sure. And then what do you see here, Joy?
That’s Esther. I see Esther’s head and her hair.
Exactly. I usually use a round rock for a head, but I wanted her long, beautiful, flowing hair, and there it was. And then maybe you could put some hands on Esther. I’ll put her legs on her little feet. Just long rocks again in the gravel where you find your hands.
How do you make her hands? She’s a little nervous when she comes in.
Oh, I like that. Little hands coming out of her shawl a little bit. Yeah. Excellent. Anybody can do rock art. You just have to play with them. And for adults, it’s harder, and for kids, it’s a lot easier.
When you’re saying, we don’t know how to play.
We’ve kind of lost, some of us. So I hope you can see Esther in there with her hands out, petitioning the key.
And leaning back a little bit. And then we would have the king reaching out for her, to touch her and let her know that she’s safe.
That is beautiful, Patty.
This is amazing because it reminds me of the Savior’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem when the Pharisees and the chief priests and the people tell him to quiet the people down because of what they’re yelling, this hosanna shout to him and he says, well, if I were to quiet them down, then the very rocks would cry out. Fascinating. When you give rocks a voice in this metaphorical way, all things really can denote that there is a God and that he is a God of creation. This is amazing. I would never look at a pile of rocks and think, I could paint a scene here. It’s fascinating.
Well, it’s wonderful to see the children all over the world doing this.
And they are.
We did it in Friend to Friend in 2021, and the children are doing it. The adults are a little more intimidated. They’re like, I’m not an artist and the children aren’t. And as we pray and ask for partnership and help from the Spirit, it is another way to start learning how to hear the voice of the Lord, how to hear Him when we work with Him to create things. And I’ve learned so much about how much Heavenly Father loves me, that he would help me make a piece of art and that joy of feeling that father daughter relationship. And I hope that we can bring that to our children when we bring rock art to them, to let them.
Create also beautiful illustrations of this whole message. Thank you, sir.
I can’t take any credit.
Wonderful. Thank you.
Thanks for letting me join us.
Well, that was a treat to get to see that rock art depiction of this throne scene between Esther and the King. So, as you notice, as she comes in to the King, and as that scepter is extended, she doesn’t reveal the whole problem. She doesn’t try to solve everything at once. She takes it very slowly, line upon line. She’s going to allow the natural events to take place. And in our own life today, I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind, because sometimes we can feel completely overwhelmed. I would imagine that when you got called to be the general primary president, that you probably looked at the to do list of the job description and probably thought, I was overwhelmed. How in the world can anybody do that? But what did you do?
Well, as you were talking, I was just thinking, isn’t that how revelation works, though? Sometimes we get just enough revelation to take a step forward. We don’t have to see to the end of the road, but we keep trusting. It comes back to, are we trusting? Are we listening? Are we letting him guide all of these wonderful occurrences in our lives?
In your particular instance, you surrounded yourself with some incredible counselors, who, by the way, both got taken away from you very soon. Or maybe that was the Lord putting a domino in place for each of those incredible women to prepare them for assignments that they didn’t really know were coming at that time.
Absolutely. I know that with all my heart. Yes.
Beautiful example. So in this case, you’ll notice there’s something powerful about just doing what you can do today, and let that be enough and leave the rest at the feet of the Savior and say, I’m going to keep chipping away at this. And that’s what Esther is doing. So she just comes in and she simply says, hey, verse four. If it seemed good unto the King, let the King and Hayman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. So it’s this service opportunity. Hey, I prepared a banquet for you and Hayman. Would you come?
That’s what my sisters do.
We cook the way to the man’s heart through his stomach. Right. And she knows this King very well in his feasting.
So notice when we get to that banquet of wine in verse six, it says, what is thy petition? And it shall be granted thee, and what is thy request? Even to the half of the kingdom, it shall be performed. He just opened the door for her to say, I’ll give you anything you want, even to the half of the kingdom. What do you want? And even then, she didn’t reveal everything yet, which raises an interesting question of timing.
Oh, it certainly does, because if we continue let’s see. Let’s go ahead and just go over to well, yes, Hayman goes and talks to his wife, but let’s go over to the beginning of chapter six, because this is when okay, so it’s that night. The King has gone to bed, and he’s having trouble sleeping. Now, think of this as another domino. This is not an accident that he commanded to bring the book of records of the Chronicles, and they were read before the King. And guess what he was reminded of in verse two? And it was found written that Mordecai had told of big fauna and terrace, that two of the King’s Chamberlains, the keepers of the door, who sought to lay hands on the King Harris. And the King said, what honor and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? It was as if he was reminded, we didn’t do anything great to celebrate that. Mordecai saved my life. We’ve got to do something. And what is the most ironic experience here in Scriptures? We read in verse four. And the King said, who is in the court? And Hayman was coming into the outward court of the King’s house to speak unto the King to hang Mordecai.
Okay, so he’s coming with that intention. But then, excuse me, hayman came in, and the King said unto him in verse six, what shall be done unto the man whom the King delighteth to honor. The King doesn’t say Mordecai’s name. He says, the man that we want to honor. Now Haman thought in his heart, to whom would the King delight to do honor more than to myself? So they’re in agreement, Haman answered the King, for the man whom the King delighted to honor. And then verse eight. Let the royal apparel be brought, which the King useeth to wear, and the horse that the King rideeth upon the crown royal, which is set upon his head, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city and proclaim before him, thou shalt excuse me. Thus shall it be done to the man whom the King delighteth to honor. And then the King said to him, make haste and take the apparel on the horse as thou hast said, and do even so to Mordecai, the Jew that sitth at the King’s gate. What do you think Hayman thought of that?
You can picture his jaw just dislocating. It drop. It just like falls. Wait, what?
Yes, a bit of shock.
So if I could point out something here the entire book of Esther. In the King James version, it has ten chapters, right? So you go from chapter one to chapter ten. And for those of you who really enjoy ancient Hebrew literary structure kinds of things, you’ll notice that the entire book of Esther comes to us in a chaosic structure. It’s a chaosm. So there are a lot of similar elements that come in. Well, the middle point of this chaosic structure is that verse that you just read. It’s the turning point of where Hayman, he’s got this gallows built to hang Mordecai, and he’s come to get him, and then he finds out all the King’s going to honor somebody great, and he lays out what he should do. And the turning point is when the King says, oh, yeah, do all of what you just said to Mordecai. And then he lists those things again. Get the horse, get the royal apparel, and get the crown and have him ride through the streets. All those things that Hayman had listed now get repeated as we come back out, and all of these destruction of the Jews end up as salvation of the Jews.
And all of the feasting and prosperity it ends with prosperity. You’re going to see some patterns, and if you want to get into it on your own, you’ll notice it doesn’t line up verse for verse. It’s a little more loose than that. But this incredible turning point of the entire story here, turning on this ironic moment, came right there in chapter six, as now, Hayman, of all people, has to be the one to go and put all of these rewards from the King onto Mordecai, his mortal enemy, and parade him through the streets of the city.
I think verse twelve sums it up well. But heyman, hasted to his house morning and having his head covered, you know, where he was, what he was doing.
He’s pretty upset.
But in the midst of his frustration, there comes this additional invitation to come to a second feast. Right. And verse 14 says, and while they were yet talking with him, king, the king’s chamberlains, and hasted to bring Haman unto the banquet that Esther had prepared. Now we’re ready to complete this process of revealing to the king what’s actually been going on, kind of behind the scenes, this plot by him and to destroy all of Esther’s people. So we jump into chapter seven.
Yes. And again, remarkably, the king says, what is thy petition, Queen Esther? And it shall be granted thee, and what is thy request? So here’s the opportunity. Then Esther, the queen in verse three, answered and said, if I have found favor in thy side, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition and my people at my request, for we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be slain, and to perish. And so she goes on to explain, this is what’s happening.
Who in the world is making this plot against you and your people? Who is that? Well, you’ve got a banquet of three. And Esther turns to him and says, well, the person who’s done that is right here, the adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and the queen, so the king arises from the banquet in his wrath, and he went into the palace garden, and Haman stood up to plead for his life. He knows this isn’t going well for him with Esther, and he saw there was evil determined against him by the king. And when the king returns into the place of the banquet of wine, hayman was fallen upon the bed where on Esther was. And so he is sent to the very gallows that he had built for Mordecai, and Mordecai’s destruction now becomes the destruction for his own life. Oh, the irony is thick.
He that doeth iniquity do with it unto himself. Is that a familiar book of Mormon scripture?
Yeah. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing play out right here with Haman, is he had these big plans, but they didn’t play out. Kind of like the devil had really big plans up in heaven. They didn’t play out, and he has no power to play them out, even though he tries to convince us that he has that power.
I thought it was interesting that he had the gallows made. They were much taller than typically done. They were 75ft high. And it ends up because he wanted Mordecai to be an example of to the Jews, and it ended up that Hayman was hung on those very gallows.
Wonderful. So now, since the king in their culture at that time, he can’t undo or erase or veto an. Existing law on their books, the form of their constitution, whatever that looked like, prohibited that. So what the king does instead is he says, Tell you what, we can just pass a new law to say that the Jews are totally welcome to defend themselves, and we can even facilitate that. So anybody who wants to try to destroy them, they will fight against them at their own peril. And so it’s this new law that gets enacted, and Mordecai is honored and elevated to this high position of authority. And now that which was a shore destruction, this period of mourning for the people, now becomes this period of rejoicing, and we’re delivered. There’s hope. We aren’t going to have to just be a victim of this law and be wiped out completely, and so they’re able to fight back. So now you look at this come full circle. Look at verse 24. Because Haman, the son of Hamadata, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them and had cast pure that word in the Hebrew, that means lots or dice.
Well, if you put an im on the end, it becomes plural in English. So we would say purse, or in this case, dice. And that word, purim actually shows up again in verse 26, wherefore they call these days Purim after the name of Tour, which, by the way, was not intended. This was such a big deal to the Jews at that time that they didn’t want this to be a one time event. Good, we dodged a bullet there. Let’s move on and forget about it. No, they wanted this one, this deliverance, kind of similar, not terribly dissimilar to passover, being this perpetual annual remembrance of how God delivered them.
They’re that’s right. A yearly reminder that God saved them. I was fascinated to learn more about perim. They begin each year. This is typically on St. Patrick’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, march 17. It’s a two day event, and they begin with the fast of Esther. Doesn’t that make sense? So they all fast from sunrise to sundown, and then after sundown, they go to the synagogue. Okay. Now, the difference between this and other Jewish holidays is what I really love. It’s the number of children that are involved. This is actually called the Children’s Night in the House of the Lord. The children come to the synagogue with their parents, and the rabbi reads the story of Esther. This whole story is laid out, and the children come, and they have noise makers. They’re called groggers. And as the rabbi reads Hayman’s name, each time he reads Haman’s name, the children boo and hiss, and they make their noise with their groggers. They make all sorts of noise, and it gets louder and louder because Haman’s name is mentioned more and more. And the interesting thing about this is that the story of Esther is representing the hiddenness of God as we mentioned before, one of our hymns, let US All Press On, reminds us that an unseen power will aid me and you in the glorious cause of truth.
In all ten chapters we mentioned, god’s name is not mentioned, but the miracles concealed were orchestrated through divine guidance, through the hidden hand of God. And so in this Jewish holiday, they wear masks which symbolize being hidden to resemble how God was masked or hidden. Throughout the Book of Esther, they actually wear masks. It’s called the Jewish Halloween. Some people use that term. So this is a story of tragedy being transformed to triumph because of one woman who stood up and spoke out. And so that’s why this is so important to the Jews, to celebrate this wonderful holiday, to remember that God saved the people, saved the Jews.
That’s wonderful. It’s inspiring to read stories like this where it’s not clear at every step. It’s not a smooth, paved sidewalk with a guardrail the whole time. There are a lot of cliffs, there’s a lot of uphill climbing going on here with Esther and with Mordecai and with these people, and yet they pressed forward. And you mentioned how this is such a big event for the children. It causes me to think. What would you say if you could get in a time machine and go back to. Say. An eight year old Esther who maybe had just lost her mother and father. And maybe her whole world had just come crumbling in and she didn’t know what was going to happen. And her uncle or her cousin adopts her and raises her as his own child? What would you say to that little Esther who has no clue what lies in her future?
The first thing that came to my mind was, don’t die with your music still in you. Just believe that there’s a purpose, as I mentioned before, that you have a purpose. In fact, I wanted to share talking about Mordecai, of course, living in Babylon, literally the physical Babylon, but we live in spiritual Babylon. We face a different challenge. And I think about this young girl, and I think about young girls that I’ve seen all over the world, little eight year old girls that I’ve seen all over the world who wonder, what is my purpose?
Why am I here?
Yeah. Why am I here? And many in the same situation that you just described, of Esther. And yet God is our God. What a blessing it is to know he knows each and every one of us. We all have a purpose. He will reveal to us in appropriate times and ways and places what it is that he needs us to do to further his work. It’s all Him. But he so lovingly, so graciously, so generously, allows us to be a part in some small way. So I would love to hug little eight year old Esther, believe me.
Yeah. Which, by the way, I think that’s important for us to recognize the fact that God didn’t need Esther, he didn’t need mordecai to save the Jews. He could have done something big and miraculous in some gigantic show of cosmic power to save the Jews. But have you noticed that he usually does his work through simple common people who don’t feel extraordinary, who don’t feel even heavenly most of the time? They’re just kind of working through life, trying to do the best they can, and he uses them as instruments in his hands to perform some of the most beautiful signs of service and miracles that we see on the earth. I love that pattern it gives us.
Don’t you wish you could see all those people that are what you just described?
I wish I could.
They’re all listening and hopefully recognizing what you just described.
I wish I could see, but I know somebody who can see, and I know he does see, and he recognizes that he’s called you. So as we come to the conclusion of this book of scripture, joy, what are some of the biggest takeaways or some of the lessons that you would feel are probably the most important or pertinent to anybody who may be watching this?
Okay, I have a thought for the sisters. First, I’d like to share, because I mentioned earlier so many sisters are feeling impressed to stretch and do some things maybe they’ve never done before in building the kingdom. And I wrote down, be wise in selection of good causes. As mordecai as we too live in Babylon to recognize, be wise. We can’t do it all. And we as women tend to do that. We try to do it all, but we use the scriptures and modern prophets as our guide. We are here now not by chance, but by design, and we each have a role to fulfill. And I want to share I have to share just a couple of lines from President Kimball. To be a righteous woman is a glorious thing in any age. To be a righteous woman during the winding up scenes on this earth before the second coming of our Savior is an especially noble calling. The righteous woman’s strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times. And then President Nelson commenting, referring to this so beautifully said, I plead with my sisters of the church to step forward, take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God more than you ever have before.
I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy, and I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ, that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way. And I have witnessed this all over the world. But the beautiful challenge for us all, this speaks to us as sisters, but the beautiful challenge is recognizing, as we were talking about, that little eight year old. Jesus Christ was once an eight year old as well. He grew from grace to grace. He learned, progressed, followed his father, followed his mother, listened to His Heavenly Father, and grew to become the Savior of the world. It’s an interesting type as we think about Esther and her preparation to accomplish what the Lord accomplished through her. We are all being prepared. And the important thing, as I mentioned, is receiving revelation, listening to the Spirit being worthy to receive the guidance that the Holy Ghost will bring to each one of us. So this is our season. We have work to do.
I think that everybody, if you pause just a moment in your soul, you might be able to hear the words of Mordecai echoing somewhere in your heart, saying to you, who enos whether thou art come to the Kingdom for such a time as this? And if you look heavenly, the Lord will define what such a time means for you. For Esther, it involved a pretty important experience with the King, but for you and me, it might involve a pretty important experience with a little child, or with a co worker, or with a son or a daughter or a spouse, or a grandparent or a parent, or somebody in your ward. The point is, the Lord is in his heavens, even if it’s not always out in the open. Obvious. In fact, it’s sometimes even more powerful when it’s incognito, when you have to stretch and look for his hand to be able to recognize it and see it.
We don’t all see a sea parted, do we?
I’m so grateful for the Scriptures. I love studying the Old Testament. It has been remarkable to me to realize that everything is shadowing. It’s a type of Jesus Christ. It just seems like everything I’ve been studying. I just am so drawn to my Savior. Through the Old Testament, of course, through the Book of Mormon and the New Testament, the pearl great price. I just marvel at what we are learning in these amazing stories, situations, experiences, trials and triumphs. It is such a witness to me that God is in his heaven, that he looks out for us. He’s given us his word to study, to learn, to grow. And I’m grateful today for my sweet sister Esther, for what she has taught me. I’m grateful for that. And I pray that I can follow the example that not only she has set, but the example my Savior has set for me, that I can follow Him always. And I leave my testimony with you that he lives in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Know that you are loved.