Esther 10 – The Significance of Holidays

Holidays are found throughout scripture. Jesus died on the Jewish holiday of Passover and He rose from the dead on the Feast of First-fruits. The Holy Spirit came on the Jewish holiday of Pentecost. As we look at the rest of Esther 9-10, we are going to learn about the Jewish holiday Purim.

 

Celebration

In the second half of Esther 9, we read about the celebration after the Jews gained relief from their enemies. Can you imagine the sorrow, fear, dread, and despair when they heard the edict to kill all the Jews? Imagine the joy and jubilation when the edict was reversed and they were saved!  It was like Christmas! They were giving each other gifts! They were celebrating and thanking God. And, these days were to be “remembered and celebrated by every generation, family, province, and city, so that these days of Purim will not lose their significance in Jewish life and their memory will not fade…” (v. 28).

 

Holidays are good and significant. They help us remember what God has done and help us leave a legacy for the next generation. We should celebrate them. Ignoring holidays as a church takes away our national context. Instead, on holidays, we can take the opportunity to pray and thank God for our freedoms, pray for our country, repent of our sins, cry out for a spiritual awakening in the nation and pray for revival in the church. So often, we argue among ourselves over how to celebrate holidays, but we forget who the real enemy is. The 4th of July is this week and we should celebrate! Paul was not ashamed of his nationality. He said in Romans 11:1, “For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” Our freedoms were purchased with the blood of patriots. We should give honor where honor is due. Our allegiance to Old Glory is significant, however we must always remember it is secondary to our allegiance to the King of Glory. We do not want anything, including patriotism, to be a stumbling block to the gospel. We should celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, baptisms, holidays, etc., to share what the Lord has done and to impact the next generation.

 

Taxation

In Esther 10:1, a tax was imposed. There are 15 verses in our passage on celebrating a holiday and only one on taxes, so I will be brief on this point. Jesus and Paul both encouraged people to pay their taxes. Taxes are how government and society function. Thank God for roads, schools, teachers, law enforcement, and firefighters! Thank God for tax money and defense spending that make both our national and local economies strong. Take legal tax breaks, but after that, whatever you owe you should gladly pay. Paying taxes is the duty of a citizen, and Christians are called to be good citizens.

 

Vocation

Esther was Queen and Mordecai “was second only to King Ahasuerus” (10:3). We need to teach our children they can pursue any career they want to pursue. You are mistaken if you think you have to be a preacher or a missionary to be used of God. Most don’t need to go to seminary to be used of God. Go to business school, vocational school, and do what God has gifted you to do. Liberty does not have four locations. We have over 10,000 locations! LibertyLive.Church is wherever you are! Every member is a missionary and minister. God uses ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things!

 

Salvation

The story of Esther is our family history. The salvation of the Jews is our salvation. God used Esther and Mordecai to save the Jewish people from death and destruction. If there were no Jewish people, there would have been no Jesus. If no Jesus, no salvation. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He is the one who saves us from eternal death and destruction. Earthly Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but He is eternal. Our hope is not in political leaders, government leaders, or any nation. Our hope is in Jesus!

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.

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

Esther 6 – The Honor of the King

There is a repeated phrase, “What is to be done for the man the king delights to honor?” God is a sovereign King who wants to show His love, mercy, and glory. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is long-suffering, willing that all should come to repentance. He is a good King, the Great King. God does not want to punish you like Haman, but He wants to reward you like Mordecai.

 

God Records

Have you ever had a sleepless night? In verse 1, the King for whatever reason could not sleep. Whatever it was, God had him tossing and turning. Someone said, the king could not sleep for all the construction noise going on at Haman’s house! (Remember, he was having gallows built to use to kill Mordecai.)Whatever the cause of his insomnia, he does a strange thing. He calls for the royal records to be read to him. The servant just happened to get the book that recorded the account of Mordecai saving the King’s life. The King had forgotten all about it. When you can’t sleep, here are some promises you can hold to – Psalm 4:8 says, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” and Psalm 127:2 says, “For He gives His beloved sleep.” Esther and Mordecai knew nothing about the King asking for the records. God is at work behind the scenes even when you don’t see it. God is working while you sleep. “Behold, He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Ps. 121:4).His mercies are new every morning, and just like these royal records were kept, He is keeping accurate records of the words we speak (Mt. 12:36-37) and the deeds we do (Ecc. 12:14, Rev. 20:12).

 

God Remembers

When the King hears of how Mordecai stopped the assassination plot against him, he asked what had been done to honor him. Nothing had been done. Mordecai had been forgotten. The King never thanked him.You may feel unappreciated, forgotten, overlooked, passed over, or that God is absent, but you can trust God’s will and God’s timing.If the King had rewarded him five years earlier, the story would not have ended this way. God is an on-time God. He is never in a hurry, never early, and never late. His timing is perfect. The Bible says, “In the fullness of time Jesus came” (Gal. 4:4). Our times are in His hand (Ps. 31:15). Let God fight your battles. He can make even your enemies be at peace with you. God remembers and rewards faithfulness.

 

God Rewards

Haman goes to ask the King for permission to kill Mordecai and before he can say a word, the King asks hima question. He said to Haman, “What should be done for the man the king wants to honor?” (v. 6). Haman loved himself so much that he could not imagine the King honoring anyone but him. In his mind, the response he gave would be done for him. As humans, we need someone important loving us. We want someone we love to love us. We want someone we think the world of to think the world of us. It shows our worth. It shows our value. Haman did not necessarily ask/think the wrong thing, but He asked the wrong King. You are loved by the King of the Universe! Jesus took our sin and disgrace and gave us His robe of righteousness. Jesus was stripped naked because of our sin so we can be clothed in righteousness. It is all about glory. What will bring God the most glory? Ultimately, the King tells Haman to do all of the things he mentioned for Mordecai. It is a stroke of irony, a total reversal. If you humble yourself, you will be exalted. If you exalt yourself, you will be humbled. Mordecai was the person most surprised. Let God promote you! God knows your address. Our God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6, Mt. 5:12, 10:41-42, 16:27, Rev. 22:12).

 

As God records, remembers, and rewards, He is not impressed with position, wealth, titles, banquets, or anything that you have accomplished.  The only thing that will get you to heaven is the finished work of His son on the cross. Come to the end of yourself and trust in Jesus for all you need.

Esther 5 – Making Decisions

Every day we are faced with situations that require a decision. Some decisions are simple. Others are much more serious. Esther has decided to go to the King and plead for the lives of the Jews. Looking at her decision and action steps in Chapter 5, we will see steps that will help us when making decisions.

 

Preparation

Verse 1 begins, “One the third day….” Esther took three days to fast and pray since no one can approach the King uninvited. During that time, God gave Esther great wisdom. Dress for success! Esther put on her royal clothing since she was going to approach the King on his royal throne. She needed a new outfit! Like the royal wedding! Whether it is a job interview or date, we should dress for the occasion. Not only did she fast, pray, and put on her royal clothes, she also went ahead and prepared a banquet in faith (v. 4). She and her servants were planning and preparing food while they fasted! You may be thinking, people are about to die and she is planning a party? Don’t get ahead of yourself. Esther shows great self-control. She maintained her composure. There is a lot to tell the King and she hasn’t seen him in a month. Timing is everything. If you need to have a tough conversation, you have to decide when, where, the attendees, how much to say and not say. Be prepared!

 

God answered her prayers and the prayers of her people. She was granted access and was pardoned when she could have been killed. Because of Jesus, God has extended the gold scepter toward us. Instead of death, He has given us favor and welcomed us into His presence! The King tells Esther he will give her whatever she wants, up to half the kingdom. God not only answered her prayer, He did exceedingly abundantly above all she could ask or think!

 

Patience

The King goes to the banquet, but Esther asks him to come back again the next day. She is not procrastinating, but being patient. Too often people freak and leak! Esther knows not to blurt out. She is seeking a private audience with the King. Think of the story of Lazarus. Jesus waited before going to him. Joseph did not reveal his identity to his brothers at first. Wait on the Lord. He will renew your strength! While we wait, God is at work. Even when you are doing the right thing, you need to wait for the right time and place. Patience is a great spiritual discipline. Life can be frustrating – traffic, telemarketers, long lines, etc. Stay in control. Enjoy the pause. Patience allows us to see things we did not see at first glance. Take time to decelerate, contemplate and meditate. Patience is not being passive. It is being strategic.

 

Purpose

Upon leaving the banquet, Haman was enraged that Mordecai wouldn’t bow to him. He even builds gallows to use to kill him. Haman is having a good day and just the sight of one person robs him of his joy. Are there people in your life who rob you of your joy? If you don’t want people to drive you crazy, stop giving them the key! Haman is proud. He’s bragging on what he has and what he’s done. Selfishness and pride will cause you to be discontent. Pride and sin will keep you from enjoying what you have. Stop focusing on what you don’t have and start enjoying what you do have.  Haman’s identity is in his wealth, family, rank, position, and the exclusive invite. He was full of himself! We can be full of ourselves too.

 

Think about your purpose. What are you living for?  Power, control, wealth, riches?  Idolatry is when we take good things, even the gifts from God, and turn them into little idols. Esther’s delay had a purpose. God was waiting on Haman to build the gallows on which he would die.

 

When it comes to your decisions, are you prayerfully making preparation? Are you impatient and getting ahead of God? What is the purpose? Do you have purpose in life?

 

Esther 4 – You Can Make a Difference

This week we will look again at Esther 4. Remember, Esther is an orphan girl who was adopted by her cousin Mordecai. She was exalted to the highest position that any woman could have in the entire world at that time. God went on to use her and Mordecai to save the entire Jewish race from genocide. Just like God used them, He can use you to make a difference as well. Let’s look at how they did it:

 

Humbly

In verse 14, Mordecai tells Esther, “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place….” Mordecai is clear that deliverance will come. If Esther keeps silent, God will rescue them through someone else. God can and will use anyone, but He doesn’t need us to accomplish His will. The only person that His plans are completely dependent upon is Jesus Christ. Moses was replaced by Joshua, David by Solomon, Elijah by Elisha. He will continue to build His church, even as each generation of saints passes away. The plans, purposes, and mission of God are not dependent upon any person. God does not need us to accomplish His work, He lets us be a part of it!

 

Confidently

Mordecai tells Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (v. 14). God invites people into a relationship with Him in order for them to partner with Him to do His mission. God doesn’t have to use people, but He chooses to. Although God’s name is not mentioned, Mordecai speaks of His providence. Esther has come to this exact position at this exact moment for this exact reason. It is no coincidence that you live where you live or that you live at this moment in history. God determined where you would live and when. Your position and place in this world, and the timing of it, are all part of God’s sovereign plan. Are you willing to be used by Him to accomplish His purposes?

 

Prayerfully

In verse 16, Esther calls a fast. They fasted and prayed for three days. She needed wisdom and courage, so she went to the source of wisdom and strength. It is dangerous to think we can do the will of God apart from the power of God! God will use us, but His mission is bigger than what we can do on our own. Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Like we saw last week, we need to cry out to God.

 

Relationally

Esther had Mordecai assemble all the Jews. We can’t make a difference on our own! Mordecai and Esther leveraged their relationships to accomplish God’s purposes. Mordecai used his relationship with Esther. Esther leveraged her relationship with the King. You will find yourself in different relationships with parents, teachers, siblings, friends, pastors, employers, co-workers, etc. God has sovereignly placed you in those relationships so that you can advance His kingdom’s purposes and mission. Don’t waste the influence you have in people’s lives. Use it for good! Don’t be like Haman. Don’t use your influence for sin, selfishness, revenge, or evil, but instead, to promote what is good, lasting, and eternal.

 

Courageously

In verse 16, Esther says, “I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.” Few things will keep you from living for God like fear. We’re afraid of failure and rejection, or to put ourselves out there and take a risk. Esther shows us what it looks like to obey God in spite of the perceived dangers. Esther was willing to die in order to accomplish God’s purposes. She would rather die than waste her life.

 

God doesn’t need us. If we don’t follow Him, He will use someone else. In the meantime, we will waste our lives. But, God invites us to get in on His plan and allows us to be used for the greatest mission of all. Join Him humbly, confidently, prayerfully, relationally, and courageously!

Esther 4 – Cry Out to God

The situation in Esther chapter 3 was desperate. So, in chapter 4 the Jews Cry Out to God.

 In Grief

The story of Esther is one heartache after another. There is so much grief, pain, and sorrow in the world today. On every row there is a hurting heart.  Grief is the body’s natural response to loss. It may be the loss of a job, a relationship, a move, a chronic illness, or the loss of a pet or loved one. You can experience every emotion, from sadness, to anger, to loneliness. Sackcloth is mentioned in the grief of death.  Ashes are added when it is a national tragedy. It is a symbol of a change of heart that is visible and demonstrates the sincerity of one’s grief. Times of crisis show what a person is made of.  In spite of the danger Mordecai displays his grief.  He could not stand by and do nothing.  Innocent people, women and children, were about to be slaughtered.  Don’t focus over what you can’t change. Cry out to the One who can do something about it.  You can trust Him.

 

For Relief

Esther sent Mordecai clothes to comfort him. What good is a new set of clothes when you are about to be executed? It was like putting a band aid on cancer! Too often we want to cover up the outside when the real problem is on the inside.  He told her all the facts.  Esther says, “If I go to the king I could lose my life.” Mordecai says, “If you don’t go to the king, you will lose your life.”

 

He says, relief will come! I don’t know how but God will come through. Maybe this is why God made you Queen! A.W. Tozer compared the sovereign purposes of God to an ocean liner leaving NYC for Liverpool, England.  “The people on board the ship are free to do as they please, but they aren’t free to change the course of the ship.” Psalm 103 says, “His Kingdom rules over all.” It is no accident that a Jewish woman is Queen!

 

With Belief

“If I perish I perish.” It is the language of complete obedience. The question is not whether you will lose your life.  We are all going to die.  Will your life count for Christ?  Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The cause is always greater than self-preservation.  John Maxwell talks about the law of sacrifice.  “A leader has to give up, to go up.”  Revelation 12:11 says, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Paul said in Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

It all points to Jesus.  Esther risked losing the palace and her life to save her people. Jesus left His palace and gave His life to save His people. They prayed 3 days for deliverance. Jesus was in the grave 3 days to deliver us! Like the Jews, we were all destined for death unless God intervened.  That is why Jesus came. Esther had to be encouraged to intercede for her people. No one had to make Jesus do it.  He willingly laid down His life for us.  Esther was willing to perish.  Jesus did perish! He suffered and was crucified dying the most painful agonizing death not because of anything He did wrong but to pay for all of our wrongs. No one has the right to come into the presence of the King.  Esther became their mediator. She is royalty saying, “If I have to die to save my people I will die.”  That is what Jesus did.  They were under judgment.  We are all under a death sentence. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”  It was all God’s grace.  Esther is the queen because of her looks. Her beauty was a gift from God.  She had nothing to do with it.  She was born with it.  What you have, your position, resources, gifts, abilities, are all because of the grace of God.  Let God use you and what you have to accomplish His eternal purposes.

Esther 3 – An Old Enemy

Today we pick up in Esther 3. In this chapter we learn more about Haman and his plot to kill the Jews.

 

The Position of Haman

“After all this took place…” (v.1). Esther was now queen and Mordecai had saved the King’s life. It was a time of peace. The war was over and the King gave Haman “a higher position than all the other officials.” Though he had the highest position in the Kingdom, second only to the King, Haman was an evil man. Today, we may not like all those in authority over us, but the Bible teaches that we are to pray for kings and all those who are in authority. We are to respect the position even if we don’t respect the person.

 

The Promotion of Haman

Mordecai protected the King. He stopped the assassination attempt. We are to seek the good of the place where we live (Jer. 29:7).Would you seek the good of a bad king or bad boss? Mordecaideserved the promotion, but he didn’t get it. Haman did. How do you respond when someone else gets the promotion you think you deserve? How do you handle someone else getting a new house, new car, or raise when you don’t think they deserve it? God has enough blessings to go around. Exalt yourself and you will be humbled. Humble yourself and you will be exalted.

 

The Pride of Haman

In verses 2-4, we read that the King commanded everyone to bow down to Haman, but that Mordecai would not. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph’s brothers, and David all bowed before others, so what was Mordecai’s problem? Like a salute in military, bowing was instinctive in this culture, but Mordecai drew the line. He had compromised, blending in with the crowd long enough. He would not bow to Haman the horrible. Civil disobedience is found in the Bible when necessary: Hebrew midwives, Daniel and his friends, and the apostles in Acts 5. This is the exception not the norm. The norm is to show respect and be at peace. Haman is absorbed with himself. His nose is so high in the air he did not even see Mordecai standing. They had to tell him!God hates pride. Pride is what made Lucifer the devil, got Adam and Eve kicked out of the garden, caused Nebuchadnezzar to lose his sanity, and caused Haman to sign his own death sentence. Do you think you are better or above everyone else? Pride can make you go too far.

 

The Prejudice of Haman

Because Mordecai would not bow, Haman decided to destroy all Jews. How could one man not bowing lead to killing an entire race? Haman is nursing an old grudge. We are not born hating people. Prejudice is learned. Haman had been taught to hate all Jews. Arrogance and anger are a bad combination. People are shot in our communities today for the same reasons. Make this story personal. Who would you kill if you could?Jesus said if you hate someone you have committed murder in your heart. We are all alike on the inside. We all bleed the same color blood. God created all people in His image. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve and therefore there is only one race, the human race. Racism is sin.

 

The King gave Haman permission to carry out his plan. He was either lazy and not wanting to do the due diligence, or he was too busy to get all the facts. He did not listen to both sides of the story! When you first hear something, you think you know the facts. You get in trouble when you do not listen to all the facts. We need to listen to multiple sources of information.Don’t jump to conclusions. Letters were sent to the officials telling them to destroy the Jewish people. How many times have you written something or repeated something that killed another person’s reputation?

 

Who do you hate? What are you doing with your grudge? Jesus offers forgiveness. Only Jesus can bring peace to the war within us. Praise God the gospel tears down walls of hostility and brings peace!

Esther 2 – Where is God?

As we continue through the book of Esther, we see that chapter 2 is a chapter about war and defeat, a girl who is orphaned, and Jews who do not return home when they could and should have. It’s about girls being taken by force into a harem, about a beauty pageant, and about an assassination plot. God’s name is never mentioned in the book of Esther so where is He in all of this?I’m glad you asked!

 

God is Greater Than Your Circumstances

Chapter 2 begins, “Some time later….” Four years have passed since King Ahasuerus banished Queen Vashti. Now there’s no queen, and he is lonely and depressed. His lost his wife, lost his war, and he is looking for a woman to meet his needs. No boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife can fill the void in your life. Only God can meet your needs! Verses 5-9 give insight into Esther’s situation. Mordecai was Esther’s guardian. Her parents had died and he adopted her. Mordecai was taken into exile, just like these girls were taken for the King. Both were taken by force, beyond their control. God gave Esther favor in the worst of circumstances. So many of life’s circumstances are beyond our control. Esther had no control over the war, her parents dying, the King’s actions, her looks, or her adoption. But, God had a plan!

 

God is Greater Than Your Compromise

“Esther had not revealed her family background or her ethnicity, as Mordecai had directed” (v. 20). These Jews had a private faith. They are just blending in with the crowd, not keeping the diet or dress of the Old Testament law. In addition, God sent his people back to Jerusalem after 70 years. They could have gone back, and should have gone back, but they didn’t. Many Christians today claim to have a private faith. Maybe no one knows you are a Christian. You don’t want to go public. The Bible is honest in showing God’s people, warts and all. Abraham and David both made big mistakes, but God redeemed them! What is on display in the Bible is the grace of God. God is greater! Grace is greater! God gives grace and favor even when we do not deserve it.

 

God is Greater Than Your Concerns

There is no doubt that Esther was concerned about the wait. She had been preparing an entire year for one night!And, for those not chosen, they would live a lonely life in a harem of women and could never go back to their family or get married. It was like a pageant and the Bachelor combined! Keep reading in the chapter and you’ll see Esther made it to the final rose ceremony and she got the final rose! Like the story of Cinderella, this poor orphan girl became the Queen! Chuck Swindoll said, “God not only moves in mysterious ways, but He also moves in mundane days.” Esther had no clue what would happen that day, but Divine Providence was at work. God is in control! He is sovereign, orchestrating affairs directly and indirectly. Human Responsibility is key as well.God orders our steps and opens doors, but we have to walk through them.  Mordecai and Esther obeyed God and took their God-given opportunities.

 

God is Greater Than Your Conflicts

Look at verses 21-23. This is a story of conflicts! There are conflicts without and within. Perhaps the people hated Esther and were for Vashti. We see that Mordecai was not rewarded immediately for his action to protect the King. Good deeds are often overlooked or unappreciated and sometimes even met with anger and hostility. Sometimes people get mad at you or try to hurt you physically or relationally. People conspire, connive, and scheme. But God has His people everywhere. Like Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon, He has Mordecai and Esther in Persia. We must do what is right knowing God will reward us in His due time. Do what is right and leave the outcome to God.

 

Even though His name is not mentioned, throughout this chapter and this book we see that our God is greater and that He is a God of redemption!

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