Esther 9: Turning Things Around

What a storyline of reversals! Vashti was divorced for not coming to the King when he called. Esther was rewarded for coming to the King when he didn’t call. Esther was orphaned, but God used her to save the parents and children of all the Jewish people. Haman built the gallows to hang Mordecai, but Mordecai lived and Haman was killed on the gallows. Over and over in the book of Esther what the enemy meant for bad, God turned for good. What will it take to turn things around in your life and in our world today?

 

Take Responsibility

As we begin in chapter 9, we see that though “…the Jews’ enemies had hoped to overpower them, just the opposite happened” (v. 1). The Jews had a duty, an assignment, a responsibility. The Jews, King, officials, satraps, governors, civil administrators and Mordecai did was right and they were rewarded for it. Verse 2 says, “Not a single person could withstand them…” and verse 4 says that Mordecai “became more and more powerful.” There was a healthy fear of God in the land. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). We need a healthy fear of God. When we are responsible, trustworthy, and dependable, God will give us more responsibility. Mordecai used his position, authority, and power to do right.  In our democratic, pluralistic society we need people in positions of authority who will exercise their responsibilities and do right. Don’t reject powerful opportunities and positions. Someone must be in these positions. The book of Esther doesn’t start out with Mordecai and Esther being strong in their faith, but there came a time when they had faith and they went public. They did not dwell on the past but on the present. We need Godly men like Mordecai and Godly women like Esther.

 

Know Your Rights

In verses 5-17 we see a declaration of war. The Jews had the right to defend themselves. Regardless of how you feel about our 2nd Amendment, they had the same right in Esther 9.  The Jews were not the aggressors. They only defended their families. We also read that Haman’s sons are all killed. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Like father like son.” They picked up the hatred, behavior, and racism of their father and were killed because of it, and their bodies were hung for all to see. The King gave the Jews a second day to finish what they’d started. Esther knew there were still enemies who needed to be found. They needed more time. They needed another chance. In Joshua 10 the Lord caused the sun to stand still “till the nation avenged itself on its enemies” (v. 13). In Isaiah 38 He gave Hezekiah 15 extra years to live. God can give you additional time to live for Him! Know your rights and do right!

 

Exercise Restraint

Verses 10, 15, and 16 all state that the Jews did not seize any plunder. Remember, they were given the right back in 8:11 – “The king’s edict gave the Jews in each and every city the right to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and annihilate every ethnic and provincial army hostile to them, including women and children, and to take their possessions as spoils of war.” They had every right to avenge themselves. In chapter 9, did they kill any woman and children? No. Did they take their possessions as spoils of war? No. Did they have the right to? Yes. Did they exercise that right? No. Though they had the legal right, they exercised restraint. Just because something is legal does not mean it is ethical or Biblical. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” We need to learn to exercise restraint, self-control. Are you eating, spending, texting, tweeting, speaking too much? Are you losing the battle with alcohol, drugs, materialism, anger, or envy? If we aren’t careful, we go too far. 

 

When we take responsibility, know our rights, and exercise restraint, we can watch God bring a sudden reversal! Regardless of what is in your past, God can change your future. God can turn your situation around. Our part is repentance. God’s part is reversal.

Esther 8 – Mordecai the Man

Father’s Day was Sunday. If you are a father, Happy Father’s Day! Mordecai was a father figure to Esther. Not only did he save the King’s life by stopping an assassination plot, he displayed many other noble qualities as well. As we look at chapter 8, we will see several things that we can learn from him.

 

Adoption

Esther revealed her relationship to Mordecai to the King (v. 1). Esther was orphaned and Mordecai adopted her as his own daughter (2:7). Why would one person adopt another? Because God adopted us and made us part of His family. Galatians 4:4-5 says, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Adoption is the analogy God chose to portray salvation. He adopted us out of a hopeless situation, redeeming us. God is going to accomplish His purposes, but He wants to do it through us! Are we doing what we can to protect and provide for others? Jesus wants us to care for orphans, the abused, the elderly, those with special needs, and for the outcasts of society.

 

Intercession

In verses 3-6 we see that Esther had the ear of the King. Why does she intercede for the Jewish people?  Because Mordecai sent word to her to go and intercede for their lives. Esther nor Mordecai may not have wanted to be put in their position of leadership, but God does not always give us what is easy. Verse 3 says Esther “fell at his feet, wept, and begged” the King to stop the plot against the Jews. What are you that passionate about? God and God’s people are all that matter in eternity. We should fall at the feet of King Jesus and beg Him to save our loved ones, who do not know Christ, from destruction.

 

Protection

Ultimately, the King issued an edict that “gave the Jews in each and every city the right to assemble and defend themselves, to destroy, kill, and annihilate every ethnic and provincial army hostile to them, including women and children, and to take their possessions as spoils of war” (v. 11). The enemies of God’s people were planning to kill, rape, enslave, and confiscate the land and assets. There is a just war and a just cause, and the Bible teaches self-defense. If someone breaks in your house and tries to kill your family, on the authority of God’s Word call 911 and defend yourself! Verse 11 is nothing more than a direct reversal of 3:13. It is equal justice. Verse 12 says they were given one day to kill. This is not an abuse of authority. Only self-defense was permitted. We need to pray for law enforcement and military put in harm’s way. They make difficult decisions in complicated situations. If a police officer is being fired upon, he has the right to return fire; but, he can’t just go and shoot unarmed people. The military has the right to defend our country. Police have the right to defend our communities. Citizens have the right to defend themselves and their families. What will we do with the power and influence we have?

 

Mission

Verse 14 says, “The couriers rode out in haste” to deliver the good news to the Jews. When they heard it, “the Jews celebrated with gladness, joy, and honor” (v. 16). There was an urgency to get the word out to every people group.  They were successful missionaries! We want Liberty to be known not for our seating capacity, but our sending capacity. Just like the military deploys men and women around the world, we are deploying men, women, boys, and girls, into the world of business, politics, media, sports, entertainment, education, law, medicine, and ministry, living out their faith every day.

 

Esther and Mordecai is a beautiful story of how men and women work together to protect their families, to win their neighbors, and to be missionaries. We are here to change lives, communities, and the world for Jesus Christ! We need Christians in our cities and communities changing culture to protect those who are abused or mistreated. We need Christians who cry out for justice. Laws do not change people. Only Jesus can change people.

 

Know Your Enemy

Guest Blogger: Chip Dean

We need to know our enemy. I believe that summer is a heightened season for temptation. We must guard our flesh, eyes, and pride with more time at the pool, vacation, and parties. We need to be on guard because sin is not just the “do nots” on the naughty list. Instead, sin is very personal to both Satan and Jesus. Because of this, we must Know Our Enemy, Know His Strategy, Know Our Savior, and Know Ourselves.

 

Know Your Enemy

2 Corinthians 2:11 says, “So that we would not be outwitted by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Wouldn’t it be nice to not feel outwitted by the evil one? God says that we aren’t “ignorant of his designs.” This means our excuses like, “You got me again, Satan,” don’t cut it with the Creator. “The devil made me do it” doesn’t fly with the Most High! God has plainly given us both a knowledge of our enemy and our enemy’s strategy in His Word.

 

1 John 2:15 is where we see God revealing clearly and plainly Satan’s strategy for temptation and sin. “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.” God has revealed Satan’s secret strategy for temptation and sin that he’s used from the very beginning until now.

 

The Desires of the Flesh // Sins of Pleasures // I want to “feel” that.

The Desires of the Eyes // Sins of Treasures // I want to “have” that.

The Pride of Life // Sins of Pride // I want to “be” that.

 

Know His Strategy

Satan came to earth as a serpent (Genesis 3:1-5), and deceived Eve by twisting God’s Word. Satan doesn’t just tempt us to sin, but he often attempts to tempt us with sin by twisting God’s Word. He wants us to doubt. He wants to cause confusion. He wants us to lack confidence. We must know God’s Word deeply. Not because I’m a Pastor but because I’m a sinner, I have to wake up at 5am every morning in order to get in God’s Word so that God’s Word gets into me.

 

Then in Genesis 3:6, we see the very same, ancient strategy that Satan first used on Eve that he continues to use today. “Eve saw that the tree was good for food [Pleasures], and that it was a delight to the eyes [Treasures], and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise [Pride].” She bit the bait and then gave some to her husband who was with her. Adam stood and watched the whole thing when he should have stood up for God, spoken up to his wife, and rose up in leadership!

 

Know Your Savior

In Luke 4:1-13, Satan tries the exact same strategy for temptation that he used on Eve and that God gave us in 1 John 2:15. Eve was tempted in a garden of paradise while Jesus was tempted in a barren wilderness. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to complete a 40 day fast (Luke 4:1). Jesus was hungry and physically weak, but His fasting and praying made Him spiritually strong! Watch this pattern of temptation Satan tried on Jesus that he used on Eve.

 

Desires of the Flesh: Pleasures // Eve: “good for food” // Jesus: “bread” (Luke 4:3)

Desires of the Eyes: Treasures // Eve: “delight to the eyes” // Jesus: “kingdoms” (Luke 4:5-7)

Pride of Life: Pride // Eve: “desired to make one wise” // Jesus “throw Yourself down” (Luke 4:9-11)

 

The first two temptations Jesus went through are self-explanatory. The third needs explanation. Satan was tempting Jesus to throw Himself off the temple for a 300 foot drop where everyone would be watching so they could see angels rescue Him and prove He truly is the Son of God. Satan was tempting Jesus to prove who He is apart from the cross and resurrection.

 

Just like his temptation with Eve, notice how Satan uses Scripture to attempt to tempt Jesus. When Eve didn’t know God’s Word, Jesus quoted God’s Word, word for word. We do not only need to know our enemy’s strategy, but we also need to know our Savior’s strategy: the sword of the Spirit!

 

Know Yourself

Which temptation has Satan been throwing at you lately? Pleasures, Treasures, or Pride?

 

Which temptation of Satan have you been falling for most through your life?

 

If you had to order Satan’s temptations in rank of which ones are more tempting for you, how would you order them?

 

Through God’s Word, we fight temptation in two ways: resistance and obedience.

 

Resistance is saying no, and there’s no temptation we cannot say no to by the power of Jesus!

 

Obedience is saying yes. We do not need to only resist, but we need to obey.

  1. Pleasure: Obey God by finding greater pleasures and joys in Jesus alone.
  2. Treasure: Obey God by finding greater treasures through being generous like Jesus.
  3. Pride: Obey God by finding greater identity in Jesus by humbling yourself.

 

When we both resist and obey, we show that we know our enemy, we know his strategy, we know our Savior, and we know ourselves.

 

Esther 7 – Poetic Justice

The story of Esther is a story of what my friend David Platt calls “Cosmic Coincidences.” There are so many things that seemingly “just so happened.” Looking at those things, it is clear that God is in control. Like He placed Esther where she was, God has placed you where you are. We have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. Everyone has a part to play and God wants to honor those who are faithful.

 

The Ask

In Esther 7:1-4, Esther finally asks the King what she’s been waiting to ask. We can learn from these verses. We see the word “feast.” People love to eat! It’s social. There is a time to fast, but there is a time to feast! Eat meals together. Have conversation. Get off your phone! Ask questions. In addition to food, feast every day on the Word of God. Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4). We also read the King was willing to give Esther half the kingdom. Are you willing to give your wife half the ballgame? Halftime? Do you complain every time she spends money? This is the second day, the second banquet. God does not always answer the first time. You don’t always succeed the first time. Try again! Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking! What for? Like Esther, “Spare my life and spare my people” (v.3). Have you asked the Lord to save you? Are you asking God to save your spouse and children? Pray for your family and loved ones to be saved. In verse 4 Esther tells the King that she had been sold. (In chapter 3 Haman promised to pay 375 tons of silver to the royal treasury.) The King had signed the death warrant for his own wife and did not know it. How many men are killing their own wife and children, and don’t even know it? You don’t know their friends or struggles. Stop and take the time to listen carefully and ask questions. Finally, what is your speech like? Esther waited till the right moment. She was bold, calm, respectful and persuasive. Esther let her words be few and we would be wise to do the same.

 

The Adversary

Esther tells the King that the enemy was Haman (v.5-6). He did not have a clue! Most Christians don’t have a clue. You have an enemy. “Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith!” (1 Pet. 5:8-9). The devil is one angel. He is not omnipresent. He works through the angels, the demons that followed him, but greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4). Put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6) and resist him. An umbrella does not stop the rain. It stops the rain from stopping you! Put on Jesus. The victory is in Jesus.

 

The Anger

The King was angry when he found out this news! But, even he controlled it. Verse 7 tells us he walked away. Anger is a God-given emotion. There are times for righteous anger. However, most times when we are angry, it is not righteous. If you struggle with anger, confront, consider, control, confess, and channel it. You can read more on anger here (link to Sept. 26 post on Proverbs on Anger).

 

The Answer

In the end, Haman was killed on the gallows he built to kill Mordecai. Tony Evans said, “Providence is the Hand of God in the glove of history.” There are times in life when you are in a fog. You don’t know what to do. Cry out to God.  Seek Him even more than seeking an answer! He is the answer!  Your boss, mate, parents, health, even YOU do not have the last word. There are times when God is silent, but in the end, God has the last word. This story also reminds us that we reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow.  It applies to believers and unbelievers alike (Gal. 6:7).

 

The end of the story is not “…and Haman lived happily ever after.”  Death is real. Hell is real. God is a just God. We talk about social justice or poetic justice, but in the end, there is divine justice. God will settle every score and make every wrong right. The scales of divine justice always balance, if not here, in the hereafter. There is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Will you go where Haman went or where Esther and Mordecai went? Haman deserved to die. You and I deserve to die.  Jesus died in our place. Have you trusted Him for your salvation?