I know you remember your wedding. Mine was memorable not because I married the prettiest girl in the world, but because of the circumstances. For the reception we were prepared to feed around 250 people, but more than 500 came so… no seating place. We had to clean the place for the second group of guests fearing all the time that we will run out of food... witch back then in that communist country was a quite of a problem. Did you ever attend a reception where you have to compete for a seat and food?
The book of Esther begins with an incredible feast. We peek into the kitchen and dining room of one of the greatest empires. Let's read Esther ch.1. This is the record of Xerxes and his big party held in the year 483 BC. READ 1:1-7…
Six months of free food, drink and entertainment! That was a long time, wasn't it? And the extra-special banquet at the end of this time lasted for 7 days – the perfect number…How beautiful this must have been. The lighting, decorations, the food... The military and all the VIP's were there. And they drank from golden goblets.
Xerxes was a billionaire. He spent all of the Persian Empire budget to eat, drink and praise himself… He blew everything, according to historians (and it was a lot) for entertaining his supporters and show them that his dynasty will last forever. And ever :)
Remember king Nebucadnezar, who reigned some time before him? He wanted too, that his name, his glory, to last forever… It didn’t happen. After Babylon, Medo-Persia came and God offer them the same chance – to bring peace and prosperity over the ancient world. And to help God’s plan of salvation through Messiah, the promise Savior.
Food, drink and circus… In Latin PANEM ET CIRCENSES. The idea of being accountable to God for everything we indulge ourselves, is not popular. But this is the truth. Of course we should have a saving account for retirement (401k) for example, but if we don't help others less fortunate with what God blessed us and if we are not supporting the Great Commission, we are to repeat the same story.
King Ahashuerus literaly eat and drunk the national treasury and he was forced to make war with Greeks in order to keep his name high and balance the budget. It was another disaster…
ILL. A House of Cards. When I was a child I remember my neighbors playing cards Sunday night. I was there too from time to time to play with their kids. It was not about the poker or anything of that sort.The adults sat around the kitchen table playing cards and telling jokes about the Communist Party. Most of the time we kids just hung around eating pretzels, playing hide-and-seek outdoors, or watching TV. We weren't much interested in playing cards. Sometimes, though, we did play with cards. We'd build elaborate card houses. The challenge came in building the biggest house, the most elaborate structure. It was a lot of fun. You had to balance the cards just right, though. Only gravity and balance held it all together. Once you had that foundation, you would gingerly add more cards here and there, each dependent upon the support of the other. We'd lay layers of card upon card to create an elaborate but fragile house of cards. The slightest movement, though, could send the whole thing crumbling. Our life... [EXTRAPOLATE]
Everything about King Ahasuerus is irresponsible layering of card upon card to create an elaborate but fragile "house of cards." Now Someone shakes the table. It's the last night of the party. The king is drunk. And in his intoxicated state he decides to show off one more of his greatest prizes. He calls for Queen Vashti to come with her royal crown "in order to display her beauty to the people and the princes, for she was beautiful" (verse 11). There's that word "display" again. No doubt it took the form of parading her, perhaps scantily dressed, before those who would have nothing in mind but lust.
"Hey, everyone, look, enjoy . . . envy. On top of everything you've seen the past six months, I've got this hot woman as my Barbie doll!"
But Vashti refuses. Immediately the true character of the king bursts through. The brief biblical record is a real eye-opener. He "be¬came very angry and his wrath burned within him" (v. 12). After 180 days of partying, and six days of another party, Ahasuerus was not planning on it ending this way. But it did. His party was ruined level, and he was livid.
Suddenly the king is not as powerful as he first appears to be. Someone actually disobeys him—and in public, no less. The house of cards crumbles. Now the scene changes from "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" to the "Private Lives of Public People."
We move behind the mask to what's really there. Verses 10-12 form the hinge point in the unfolding narrative. From here on we see just how empty the exalted king and his mighty kingdom really are. In fact, the next scene is a bunch of drunken men running around worried that they will lose control of their wives (verses 13-22).
Well, these seven eunuchs came out: Mehumen, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zether and Carcas. (I cannot maginie a mother naming their kids like that.... "Look at my beautiful Carcas.)" Eunuchs are a little bit different anyway. The women were safe around these eunuchs. The king wanted to parade his wife before the drunken friends.
The king said, "Bring out Vashti so we can gaze on her beauty." Now this request places the wife in a difficult position. She knew the mind of her drunken husband was altered. You know what Vashti did? Vashti operated with a pure conscience. She thought that when her husband came to himself he would commend her for her decision.
That's an interesting thing, isn't it. In other words, she wasn't drunk and he was. She was trying to save him from something she thought would bring disgrace to him. So it was for his benefit. She loved him. She loved her husband. Now I don't hold up Vashti as some saint, but she acted out of a pure conscience. She loved him. And yet, I want to tell you, she got divorced for doing it. Sometimes the innocent people get divorced, don't they? Vashti refused her husband's demand. Do you think Vashti did wrong? I don't. I heard some preachers bashing her loud and clear in the name of men's right to run the family... Men first.
I think we need to put God first. I respect her thinking. Her husband seemed to value her as an object of beauty (verse 11); to be put on display, rather than as a person whose worth radiates from her character. And I think it's time men stopped devaluating women.
And I think it's time women stopped nagging men. It's time that we stopped dragging each other down, and it's time that we started loving and admiring each other for the good that we find in each other. We shouldn't be criticizing each other, neither of us.
So what happened? Esther 1:12 says this: "But when the attendants delivered the king's command, Queen Vashti refused to come." What did the king do? "The king became furious and burned with anger."
ILL. The history tells us that Xerxes was a very cruel king. One time at the Hellespont there by the seaside a huge storm came up. This was a monster storm and it came in and ruined all of his ships. And it also knocked down the bridges of the harbor and also inland. Devastated the area.
You know what Xerxes did? He commanded his soldiers to go out and give the sea three hundred lashes. Whip the sea! Spank it! Inflict wounds on the sea for what it did to his property. And then he turned to his mechanics who built those ships and who built those bridges and beheaded them. Nobody crossed Xerxes. When he said, "Jump." You said, "How high?" And Vashti said, "I'm not going to display this type of thing before you."
READ v. 13… It was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise-men who understood the laws. The king consulted with his counselors. This was in the third year of the king and what he was basically trying to do…
There was a big war looming with the Greeks on the horizon, and so king Xerxes was trying to inebriate all of his generals as military men, and say, "Okay, now that you're in your right mind do you think we can do this? We can do it." And, you know, the Greeks won the battle. The Persians were decimated.
Wine gives you a false sense of ability. I want to tell you, Brothers and Sisters, if you drink, you are setting yourself up for a bad fall. You can believe that. You can be sure of that. Don't drink.
Xerxes was hoping to impress these military leaders with his power and his wealth and here he couldn't even rule his wife, and if he can't rule his wife, how can he rule the kingdom? So he's in a bad problem here. So he says, "Bring in the wise men."
…Wise-men should understand the times. I think wise people, as Seventh-day Adventists living in these last days, we need to understand the times in which we live.
Do you realize that Jesus could come right now? This could be it! You look at what's happening over there in Middle East. You look at what's happening around the world...
I believe the signs of Matthew 24 are being fulfilled. The gospel is going to all the world. I think the end is right here! I believe we're ready to go. We need to understand the times. And we need to understand Jesus Christ...
--- Remnant of the Remnant (INSERT from page f my booklet)
Xerxes sat on the throne, he wore the crown, and yet notice that most of the decisions were made by his cabinet. He said to the cabinet, "What do you think I should do about Vashti?" and the said, "Well, do this." and He said, "Okay, I'll do it." He didn't make very many decisions.
In Esther 1, verse 16, 17 and 18, you can read about the counselors. The chief counselor was Memucan. He said, "You know, you've got a bad problem on your hands. Your wife won't obey you and soon word's going to get out and all the women in your whole kingdom in the whole world, this is a world-wide kingdom, all the women are going to take over if we don't come down on this one. We're going to be ruled by the women."
Can you hear this drunken all-men's gathering muttering and mumbling, "Oh no. What do we do now? When my wife hears about this there will be no controlling her then." And on and on and on. In the end the domestic problem between the king and his wife gets blown all out of proportion and looks more like a treat to the national security...
Vashti gets deposed and women throughout the empire come under an irrevocable royal edict to show respect to their husbands… (verses 20-22).
Do you agree with his conclusion? Should the men rule their own homes… Should we? Yes we should. But not as a Adolf Hitler bully. How should we rule our own home? Just like Jesus Christ rules the church. That's how. Paul said…EXTRAPOLATE…
What we need to do is rule our homes like Jesus Christ rules His church. And how does Jesus rule His church? Jesus gave His life for His church. Men, we aught to be willing to give our life for our wife. Jesus loves the church. Jesus set an example before the church.
That's what we aught to do. Jesus prays for the church. We respect Jesus. He is respectable. We need to be respectable. Men, be the spiritual leader of your home. If you're married, you need to be the leader, you need to be like Jesus, you need to be the spiritual high priest of your house.
Now when Xerxes sobered up, and here's something interesting that I did not know. When Xerxes sobered up, he afterward considered the matter and he felt that Vashti deserved to be honored for what she did. Honored rather than to be treated as she was. When he sobered up he thought, "I have done wrong here."
But you know, the law of the Medes and Persians can't change. He divorced Vashti in a moment of rage. It might be good that we have a waiting period for divorce. He might not have done that. Of course there was a purpose in all this.
Do you think all the women in the Persian Empire would be disrespectful to their husbands. I don't think so. In fact, if I read my Bible correctly in Acts 2:17, 18, both men and women are empowered by the Holy Spirit. God uses both of them. If women can't be leaders then why do we have a prophetess?
Sometimes we fear like Memucan did. And I don't think we should ever be afraid of a woman who is empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can't retain our power by keeping others in chains. We don't prove our manhood by treating others like objects. We show our leadership by the quality of our life. By overcoming such things as alcohol, Xerxes could have shown his character and his leadership.
"The greatest want in the world today is the want of men who will not be bought or sold. Men who in their inmost souls are true and honest. Men who do not fear to call sin by its right name. Men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle is to the pole. Men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall." (Education 57) That's the need of the world today.
Let's read Esther 1:18, 19, 20. Here's what happened. "This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen's conduct will respond to all the king's nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. Then when the king's edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the great."
That's love by legislation, isn't it? Is that the way all women would respect their husbands, because then king in Susa put out a proclamation? No way. You know how women respect men today? If that man is a leader in his own home after the pattern of Jesus Christ. If he's a man of admiration and nobility, a good person.
I want to tell you this book of the Bible is like a play. When the curtain rises, the play begins. We enjoy the actors. They act out their parts. But the most important person in a play is never seen, and that is the director. I want to tell you that God is the director of this.
You can see Him behind the scenes. The director rehearses for weeks with the cast. He works behind the scenes; He bring out the best in each one. That's what God does. And the play is successful because of the director. And in the book of Esther it is true the name of God is never mentioned, although cryptically it is mentioned four times.
But God is a key character in this book. we should always remember that God is in charge behind the scenes, overruling, guiding, in control, things are going to end up according to His master plan. Don't worry about China and Iran; Don't worry about Israel and Lebanon; Don't worry about the United States. God is in charge.
God is overruling. He is the director of our life. I was so glad to see the new hundred dollar bill; In God We Trust is still on there. I hope we do trust in Him. We aught to trust in God. we aught to turn over the keys of our life to God. God is the director of our life. Allow Jesus to come into our heart and direct our daily activities, to be the director of our family.
Whether you've been married one week or thirty years or fifty years you will have the happiest home if Jesus is in your hearts. That family that worships together, that prays together, they are going to stay together. If they both love Jesus they will love each other. You will only be successful in life if you give your heart to Jesus Christ.
I really appreciate the book of Esther. An amazing story. I want you to read the second chapter of the book of Esther in preparation for next week. Interesting story here. Realize that you are Esther. Or Vashti. Or Xerxes. Or Haman. Or Mordecai. You are like one of these people.
And God can help you to be the best. If you're like one, you can be like the other, because as I read this, some of these people portray to me exactly what Jesus was. When I read the story of Joseph I fell that Joseph was a model of Jesus Christ. And when I read about Esther and Mordecai, I see the same thing. It never ceases to thrill my heart how God leads among His people.
And I believe God is leading today. I believe He is coming soon. I just can't help but think we're on the edge of eternity. And I urge you to be faithful. Now is not the time to be a party drunk, to be the leader of some great nation and be drunk. Where is that nation going? Thank God that God is the unseen director. And he needs to be the director of your home and your life.
Through the experience that brought Esther to the Medo-Persian throne, God was working for the accomplishment of His purposes for His people.
I believe Vashti's refusal gives us a glimpse of God, too. She was brave enough to say no to what was blatantly wrong and took a moral stand against the greatest power in her world. Good for her! Her ex¬perience shows God at work in the hearts of people who don't even know Him.
Vashti reminds us that in a world of money, sex, power, and applause, the foundation of true greatness is moral integrity. In doing so she opens the way for us to grasp a fundamental theme in Esther—when you disobey the king, when you run against the will of our world, when you stand for what is right, history will never be the same.
It's a moment during which God steps in and works His will. Think of it—every time someone resists the world's power, the course of history changes as God works. In the wake of Vashti's ethical stand, a vacancy opens up at the very top, in the king's household, and God has someone waiting in the wings to fill that opening.
In the midst of what's happening in our world, God's heart remains attached to His people, even when they are so often awed by the mag¬nificence of human achievement and caught up with culture's glory, lifestyle, values, and worldview.
It does not hinder God's plans when the events of our world are carnal or secular. Not only do we live in a world that is only a house of cards; it is the very world God works in. It is the world that God seeks to expose for all its emptiness, yet the very world that God sometimes uses to accomplish His perfect will for each one of us.
God is at work touching lives, shaping kingdoms. Whether you see Him or not, He is active in your life right now. Can you see His fingerprints?