Monday, May 11, 2020

Esther Pt 6

Esther 7:1-10 Now the king and Haman came [the next day] to drink with Esther the queen. And the king said to Esther on the second day at the banquet, "What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done." Then Queen Esther replied, "If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king." Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, "Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?" Esther said, "A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!" Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen. The king arose in his anger and went into the palace garden; but Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that harm had been determined against him by the king. Now when the king returned from the palace garden, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was. Then the king said, "Will he even assault the queen with me in the house?" As the word went out of the king's mouth, they covered Haman's face. Then Harbonah, one of the eunuchs who were before the king said, "Behold indeed, the gallows standing at Haman's house fifty cubits high, which Haman made for Mordecai who spoke good on behalf of the king!" And the king said, "Hang him on it." So they hanged Haman on the gallows which he had prepared for Mordecai, and the king's anger subsided. 

Well, there you have it. Haman’s pride cost him his life. He thought getting rid of the Jews and in particular Mordecai would solve his problems. He had no idea he had crossed over into attacking God by attacking God’s people. The plans he made were countermanded by God, who took what Haman had decreed for evil and turned it for good.

Joseph saw God do the same thing in his life. In dealing with the wrong imposed on him by his brothers, Joseph saw the bigger picture. He saw the story of his life but also saw how God had directed his steps. Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result. 

The ability of God to turn things around is paramount to Him doing what’s best. Without that ability, He can’t continually work all things together for good, or accomplish what concerns us, ​or make everything appropriate in its time. But because of that ability, He can take broken pieces of our lives and remold them into a masterpiece of His purpose.

God said through Isaiah: Isa 61:2-3 He would comfort all who mourn, grant those who mourn Zion [home, a place to belong], giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. 

To fulfill these promises, He must be able to control the outcome of whatever is going on, to use any circumstances to accomplish His plans. He can exchange mourning with comfort, a burned-out ash heap of a life for the beauty of a garland wreath, sadness for gladness, fainting from a worn-out life with the ability to stand and praise Him. Instead of a droopy willow, He makes us into strong oaks.

We are prone to determine who we are by what has been done to us, or decide how things will turn out based on our current circumstances. God has settled both. We are Children of God regardless of our situation. Nothing can change that! And He will control the outcome of the moment. Nothing can change that either!

Prov 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. 

The ultimate test of Sovereignty is not only God’s right to rule, but the ability to accomplish His plans.

Esther 8:1-2 On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had disclosed what he was to her. The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman. 

You know the expression: the inmates are running the asylum. Meaning: the people least capable of running a group or organization are now in charge, which typically results in total chaos or calamity. What was in charge was unrefined opinion, personal preference, prejudice and historical animosity. That was Haman. His evil intentions influenced the King and permeated the entire nation.

  • Prov 29:2 When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.  
  • Prov 28:12 When the righteous triumph, there is great glory, but when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.  
  • Prov 11:10 When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting. 
The only solution is getting the wrong influence out and the right influence in.

Esther 8:3-14 Then Esther spoke again to the king, fell at his feet, wept and implored him to avert the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite and his plot which he had devised against the Jews. The king extended the golden scepter to Esther. So Esther arose and stood before the king. Then she said, "If it pleases the king and if I have found favor before him and the matter seems proper to the king and I am pleasing in his sight, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to destroy the Jews who are in all the king's provinces. For how can I endure to see the calamity which will befall my people, and how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?" So King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, "Behold, I have given the house of Haman to Esther, and Haman they have hanged on the gallows because he had stretched out his hands against the Jews. Now you write to the Jews as you see fit, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's signet ring; for a decree which is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's signet ring may not be revoked. So the king's scribes were called at that time in the third month (that is, the month Sivan), on the twenty-third day; and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded to the Jews, the satraps, the governors and the princes of the provinces which extended from India to Ethiopia, 127 provinces, to every province according to its script, and to every people according to their language as well as to the Jews according to their script and their language. He wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus, and sealed it with the king's signet ring, and sent letters by couriers on horses, riding on steeds sired by the royal stud. In them the king granted the Jews who were in each and every city the right to assemble and to defend their lives, to destroy, to kill and to annihilate the entire army of any people or province which might attack them, including children and women, and to plunder their spoil, on one day in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month (that is, the month Adar). A copy of the edict to be issued as law in each and every province was published to all the peoples, so that the Jews would be ready for this day to avenge themselves on their enemies. The couriers, hastened and impelled by the king's command, went out, riding on the royal steeds; and the decree was given out at the citadel in Susa. 

The answer was simple. Since you cannot revoke the original decree, make another decree that makes following the first decree so undesirable it will be ignored. In the original, the Jews were to be slaughtered like sheep. In the second they could defend themselves against anyone who attacks them. The sheep could become wolves to protect themselves and their families. Did they not have the right to defend themselves? Probably not, since they lived as captives inherited from the Persians overtaking the Babylonians. But now, with it being official from the King, fewer Persians would participate in this ethnic cleansing. Killing the Jews would not be so simple a task.

Esther 8:15-17 Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. For the Jews there was light and gladness and joy and honor. In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king's commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them. 

Look at the result. For the Jews to wield such favor to receive a royal decree on their behalf, over-against the first ruling of the King of Persia, there must be something remarkable about them. Though we’ve seen it looking back, the Persians hadn’t. They were just now realizing that the God of the Jews must still be active in their lives. What do you do when the ultimate power is working for the other guys? You die or surrender. “Our gods don’t come through for us like that, so let’s change gods. Let’s become Jews and have their God be our God.”

Ps 115:3-8 God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. Their gods [Persian gods] are silver and gold, the work of man's hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat[And the people have] become like them, [empty and powerless]

It happens in our life. If we have a weak god, we’ll have a weak life. It is not until someone realizes their way isn’t the best way, their thoughts are not the best thoughts, their life isn’t the best life, their hopelessness isn’t producing hope, that they will seek another answer. 

Esther 9:11-14 On that day the number of those who were killed at the citadel in Susa was reported to the king. The king said to Queen Esther, "The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman at the citadel in Susa. What then have they done in the rest of the king's provinces! [records show 25,000 killed] Now what is your petition? It shall even be granted you. And what is your further request? It shall also be done." Then said Esther, "If it pleases the king, let tomorrow also be granted to the Jews who are in Susa to do according to the edict of today; and let Haman's ten sons be hanged on the gallows." So the king commanded that it should be done so; and an edict was issued in Susa, and Haman's ten sons were hanged. 

Esther was cleaning house. This young girl, beautiful in form and face, had become a warrior. How? By accepting what God called her to do. During those three days of prayer and fasting, she had surrendered to what the job required. God moved her beyond her fears, her apprehensions, her gentile and quiet spirit to accomplish things outside of her comfort zone. She became essential for God to use her to save His people.

The distinction in Esther’s life was surrender verses pride. A significant verse early in the story said: Esther 2:20 Esther had not yet made known her kindred or her people, even as Mordecai had commanded her; for Esther did what Mordecai told her as she had done when under his care. 

She had learned submission at an early age and surrendered herself to obey Mordecai. Pride doesn’t surrender to obey. Pride seeks superiority over others, including God. Pride doesn’t permit the provisions of God, because pride cannot accept its own failure. Pride fights against the goodness of God because pride doesn’t believe anyone else has the right to determine what’s best. Ultimately, pride rejects the work of God. 

When God wants to comfort those who mourn, pride rejects that comfort to remain in mourning. When God wants to replace the ashes of a broken life with the beauty of His covering, pride rejects that beauty for the ugliness of the ash heap. When God wants to restore a tragic history and turn the evil to good, pride rejects God’s definition of good.

Esther was such a contrast to Haman. Everything Haman hated she loved. And everything Haman loved she despised. 

Esther 9:24-27 For Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the adversary of all the Jews, had schemed against the Jews to destroy them and had cast Pur, that is the lot, to disturb them and destroy them. But when it came to the king's attention, he commanded by letter that his wicked scheme which he had devised against the Jews, should return on his own head and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Therefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. And because of the instructions in this letter, both what they had seen in this regard and what had happened to them, the Jews established and made a custom for themselves and for their descendants and for all those who allied themselves with them, so that they would not fail to celebrate these two days according to their regulation and according to their appointed time annually. 

What about Mordecai? Esther 10:3 Mordecai the Jew was second only to King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews and in favor with his many kinsmen, one who sought the good of his people and one who spoke for the welfare of his whole nation. 

With the wrong man now out, the right man can be put in place. Haman had schemed his way to the top position underneath King Ahasuerus. His intentions were evil. He came in to steal, kill and destroy the lives of God’s people. 

Who does that remind you of? Symbolically Haman is playing the role of Satan in this story. He exercised his influence over the King, just as Satan tries to influence our thoughts and actions. The King gave in to that influence, just as we give in to Satan’s suggestions.  He was the wrong man in the position of influence.

Mordecai had God’s interest in mind. Mordecai rose to the position to influence the King. The King gave in to that good influence, making Mordecai the right man for that position.

Mordecai represents the Holy Spirit, the One who wants to reconcile us to God. Who wants to make us right with God and urges us to follow the path of godliness. This can never happen with a Haman, driven by pride, influencing our lives. It is only when we surrender to the Spirit of God empowering us to submit ourselves to God’s plan and purposes, that we are walking in the Spirit – in agreement with God.

Eph 3:14, 16-19 For this reason I bow my knees before the Fatherthat He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 

When we give ourselves in surrender to our Sovereign God, we will see God actively engaged in producing in us the qualities and characteristics that reflect who we are as Children of God. But we must get the wrong influence out and the right influence in. How?

Send Haman to the gallows. That part of us that desires the influences that make us reject God’s best must be removed. Rom 6:11-13 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 

Give the signet ring of our personal authority over to Mordecai. In other words, let the Spirit of God take charge. Rom 8:6-11 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 

We must remove the wrong influence from being in control and put the right influence in charge. But if we ever think this is easy, we have never tried to deny our pride and submit to God. To surrender our lives to a higher calling requires sacrifice.

During World War II, a young paratrooper, David Webster of E Company, 101st Airborne, wrote his mother, "Stop worrying about me. I joined the parachutists to fight. I intend to fight. If necessary, I shall die fighting, but don’t worry about this because no war can be won without young men dying. Those things which are precious are saved only by sacrifice."

Sacrifice comes at the end of a fight. The final blow is when we say this is worth dying for. Spiritually, that comes when what God wants for me is more precious than what I want for myself.

There’s this song we used to sing and it still floats around occasionally: We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord…

The music is skippy and fun as though a sacrifice is easy to bring to the Lord. It’s not. Sacrifice comes from a broken heart, a desperate cry within that’s tired of the battle for who’s best to rule our lives. It comes only at the end of the struggle with pride. 

Joni Erickson Tada wrote: “A sacrifice of praise will always cost you something. It will be a difficult thing to do. It requires trading in our pride, our anger, and most valued of all, our human logic. We will be compelled to voice our words of praise firmly and precisely, even as our logic screams that God has no idea what he’s doing. Most of the verses written about praise in God’s Word were penned by men and women who faced crushing heartaches, injustice, treachery, slander, and scores of other intolerable situations.”

Sacrifice is the final flag of surrender. Without surrender a drowning person can’t be saved. Without surrender a patient can’t be cured. Without surrender a life can’t be brought in line with God’s purposes. Surrendering our lives to God indicates we now know His way is best.

  1. Until we surrender to God, we will fight Him for the right to control our lives.
  2. Unless we surrender to God, the inmates are running the asylum. 
  3. At salvation we gave Him our lives. The idea was, that would not be just a one-time gift, but an on-going responsibility.
  4. Surrender requires daily submission, acknowledging God has the right to rule this day and every day.

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