September 19, 2020
Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Est A* — "IN THIS CORNER WE HAVE..."
"Haman, however, son of Hammedatha the Agagite, who was in high honor with the king, sought to harm Mordecai and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king." Esther A:17
We are introduced to the two fighters in a great spiritual contest. We also are given a prophetic dream revealing the outcome of the fight.
Prayer: Father, use me to bring down the strongholds of the evil one (cf 2 Cor 10:4) and make "a public show of" him (Col 2:15).
Promise: "The light of the sun broke forth; the lowly were exalted and they devoured the nobles." A:10
Est 1 — SEX OBJECT
Ahasuerus instructed the eunuchs "to bring Queen Vashti into his presence wearing the royal crown, that he might display her beauty to the populace and the officials, for she was lovely to behold. But Queen Vashti refused to come at the royal order." Esther 1:11-12
Queen Vashti refused to parade her beauty before a group of drunken, lustful men. In punishment, she was stripped of her royal dignity.
Prayer: Father, raise up pure and courageous women to defy the lust of our society.
Est 2 — BEAUTY CONTEST
"Let the king appoint commissaries in all the provinces of his realm to bring together all beautiful young virgins to the harem in the stronghold of Susa. Under the care of the royal eunuch Hegai, custodian of the women, let cosmetics be given them. Then the girl who pleases the king shall reign in place of Vashti." Esther 2:3-4
Esther won the beauty contest and became the new queen. When we turn our lives over to the Lord, He can turn anything to the good (cf Rm 8:28).
Prayer: Father, use physical beauty for your honor and glory.
Promise: "She won the admiration of all who saw her." 2:15
Est 4 — FASTING AND FAINTING
"Fast on my behalf, all of you, not eating or drinking, night or day, for three days. I and my maids will also fast in the same way. Thus prepared, I will go to the king, contrary to the law. If I perish, I perish!" Esther 4:16
Mordecai sent a message to Esther telling her to risk her life by going uninvited into the king's presence. She was to ask that the Jewish race be spared. After Esther and the Jewish people fasted by not eating or drinking for three days, she prayed, entered the king's presence, and fainted (see D:6-15).
Prayer: "Hear my prayer; have pity on Your inheritance and turn our sorrow into joy: thus we shall live to sing praise to Your name, O Lord. Do not silence those who praise You" (C:10). "Save us by Your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but You, O Lord" (C:25).
Promise: "I acted as I did so as not to place the honor of man above that of God. I will not bow down to anyone but You, My Lord." C:7
Est 5 — CHEERS
"His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, 'Have a gibbet set up, fifty cubits in height, and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it. Then go to the banquet with the king in good cheer.' " Esther 5:14
After reviving from fainting, Esther asked the king and Haman to come to two banquets. Haman was proud to be in such exclusive company. His only problem was Mordecai's refusal to bow down before him. Zeresh, his wife, suggested that Haman set up a gibbet to hang Mordecai on. This would cheer Haman up.
Prayer: Father, give me wisdom in spiritual warfare.
Promise: "Whatever you ask for shall be granted." 5:6
Est 6 — HUMBLE PIE
"If Mordecai, before whom you are beginning to decline, is of the Jewish race, you will not prevail against him, but will surely be defeated by him." Esther 6:13
When Haman was about "to suggest to the king that Mordecai should be hanged" (6:4), the king asked Haman: "What should be done for the man whom the king wishes reward?" (6:6) Haman thought the king was referring to himself, so he proposed several public expressions of honor. When Haman found out that Mordecai was the one to be rewarded and he had to do the honors, Haman was humiliated. He "hurried home, his head covered in grief" (6:12).
Prayer: Father, may I humble myself rather than leave it up to others to humble me (see Mt 23:12).
Promise: "This is what is done for the man whom the king wishes to reward!" 6:11
Est 7 — HANGMAN
"Haman had thrown himself on the couch on which Esther was reclining; and the king exclaimed, 'Will he also violate the queen while she is with me in my own house!' Scarcely had the king spoken, when the face of Haman was covered over." Esther 7:8
At the second banquet, Esther "popped the question" and asked that the Jewish race be spared. The king became angry with Haman for arranging for the genocide of the Jews. After the King left the room, Haman threw himself on Esther's couch to ask for mercy. At this point the king returned and thought this was an attempted rape. Thereupon, "they hanged Haman on the gibbet which he had made ready for Mordecai, and the anger of the king abated" (7:10).
Prayer: Father, confuse the proud in their inmost thoughts, depose the mighty from their thrones, and raise the lowly to high places (see Lk 1: 51-52).
Promise: "I ask that my life be spared, and I beg that you spare the lives of my people." 7:3
Est 8 — "THEN ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED" (Rm 11:26)
"You too must celebrate this memorable day among your designated feasts with all rejoicing, so that both now and in the future it may be, for us and for loyal Persians, a celebration of victory, and for those who plot against us a reminder of destruction." Esther E:22-23
The king permitted Esther to write an official letter revoking Haman's decree and authorizing "the Jews in each and every city to group together and defend their lives, and to kill, destroy, wipe out, along with their wives and children, every armed group of any nation or province which should attack them, and to seize their goods as spoil" (8:11). "In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king's order arrived, there was merriment and exultation, banqueting and feasting for the Jews" (8:17).
Prayer: Father, may the Jewish people accept Jesus as Messiah and God.
Promise: "We find that the Jews, who were doomed to extinction by this archcriminal, are not evildoers, but rather are governed by very just laws and are the children of the Most High, the living God of majesty, Who has maintained the kingdom in a flourishing condition for us and our forebears." E:15-16
Est 9 — PURIM
"Thus were established, for their appointed time, these days of Purim." Esther 9:31
The king gave the Jews an additional day to avenge themselves on their enemies. They killed 75,800 people. Mordecai ordered the Jews "to celebrate every year both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of the month of Adar as the days on which the Jews obtained rest from their enemies and as the month which was turned for them from sorrow into joy, from mourning into festivity" (9:21-22). "These days have been named Purim after the word "pur" (9:26), because of the lot (pur) that Haman cast to determine the day for the destruction of the Jews (see 3:7).
Prayer: Father, turn "my mourning into dancing" (Ps 30:12).
Promise: "No one could withstand them, but all peoples were seized with a fear of them." 9:2
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996
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