"THY WILL BE DONE"
Today we are going to study the book of Esther. If you have never read it, or IF it has been a long time and the details have become a little cloudy get ready because this is an exciting story.
There are 5 major characters in this book, and we’ll introduce them now to make things easier to follow....
Xerxes; is the 5th king of the Persian Empire and he is in the 3rd year of his reign which began in 486 BC after the death of his father Darius the First.
Vashti; is the Queen of Persia she is a woman of character and conviction.
Mordeci; is a Jewish man whose family was exiled when Jerusalem fell. He is a cousin of Esther and has been rasing her ever since her parents died.
Esther; is an orphan girl who is being raised by Mordeci, she is a woman of both inner and outer beauty.
Hamon; is the villain of the story, he is dressed in black and is wearing a black hat... He is the second in command of Persian Empire.
As we study this thrilling account from the Word of God we will see that though God’s name is never mentioned in this book, that His presence, His providence, His moving, is very apparent as the drama unfolds.
It is like God is off stage directing those who are on stage, setting the scenes and guiding the action.
You know it is so easy to see God in the spectacular and the miraculous, but it is a lot harder to see God in the seemingly mundane and ordinary times of our life. But God is also present there, weaving a plan and working in our lives.
I. SCENE ONE, "THE PARTY"
This drama from the word of God opens in 483BC, during the 3rd year of King Xerxes rein, in the city of Susa, just north of the Persian Gulf and East of the Tigris and Euphrates river, (modern day Iran). Gods people have been scattered throughout the Persian Empire since the fall of Jerusalem (which occurred 587 BC at the hands of the Babylonians, because of their disobedience) and some like Nehemiah have gone home to rebuild the city and the Temple.
So here we have King Xeroxes in his capital city. And I think we would have to call Xeroxes the ultimate party animal. He is throwing a party for all of his nobles, officials, princes and military leaders, one commentator said probably a group of about 10-15,000. And do you know how long this party lasted? for 180 days. And do you know what he did right after the party? he threw another one for ten days in the enclosed garden of his palace.
And while this party was going on the ladies were having there own party given by Queen Vashti. And as the party was nearly over the King (no doubt drunk) thought "HEY, I HAVE A GREAT LOOKING WIFE, I THINK I’LL HAVE HER GET ALL PRETTIED UP AND COME IN WALK AROUND IN FRONT OF MY DRUNKEN FRIENDS." So he sent his messengers to go get her.
What do you think Queen Vashti did when she heard the King’s order? She refused, she wasn’t about to allow herself and the King (who was not in his right mind) to be disgraced, she was a woman of convictions and even though she knew that the price would be high to refuse, she sent back word ,"I’m not coming."
When XerXes hears this he is pretty ticked off and he asks some of his officials what he should do and they tell him that if he does not punish Queen Vashti then when all the woman of the empire hear of it they all in turn, will rebel against their husbands.
So they remove Vashti’s crown and issue a decree that all woman in the empire, must respect their husband. It is as if they think they can demand their wives to respect them. But that’s not how it works respect is not demanded it is earned.
II. SCENE TWO, "THE PAGEANT" [CH2]
The next scene I call the pageant. And it takes place nearly four years after the end of chapter one. In the intervening years Xerxes takes his navy and goes to Europe and tries to defeat Greece,(something his dad failed to do). But he doesn’t do much better and the greek historian Herodotus says that Xerxes came home and sought consolation with his harem.
It is after this where they begin to find a replacement for Queen Vashti. Xerxes attendant suggests sending out commissioners all 127 provinces and that they bring back to Susa the most beautiful virgins that they can find.
"And let the one who please you be the next Queen and we will help you Judge."
It is here that we see the invisible finger of God begin to move and it stops at Esther.
Esther is chosen as one of the girls from her province, Mordecai her adopted father tells her to keep the fact that she is a Jew hidden.
Regardless of the odds Esther would win. After she had gone through the prescribed beauty treatments (6 months of oils and 6 months of perfumes and cosmetics) she was brought before Xerxes.
Scene 2 closes with a very important point that is stuck in at the end. Mordecai worked at the King’s gate and he over heard 2 men plotting to assassinate Xerxes. He told Esther and Esther told Xerxes and the men were brought in, found guilty and hung. And this whole event was recorded in book of annals, kind of like the minutes of a meeting.
Now you need to save that piece of information because we’ll need it later.
III. SCENE THREE, "THE PLOT" (CH3)
As this scene opens up, for the first time the villain steps on stage, we finally meet Hamon. Now this chapter is about 4 years after chapter 2.
As the chapter opens we see Hamon being promoted to the highest office in the kingdom, he is made second in command to Xerxes himself, and Xerxes has also ordered that whenever Hamon walks by everyone must bow down and worship him.
Mordicia, who worked at the gate and refused to bow down and give homage and worship to Hamon. When HamoN learned of this he was furious, and when he learned that this Mordeica was a Jew his fury raged with even greater intensity.
Hamon hated the Jews, they were the most stubborn people that he had ever seen. All of the other conquered nations would bow and give honor to Persian leaders, but not the Jews. They would not bow to anyone except their God.
Listen to [3:5,6]
Then Hamon went to Xerxes to try to sell the King on his idea. You can easily see Hamon buttering up and brown nosing the King, kind of like how Eddie Haskel talked to June and Ward.
Then Xerxes took off his signet ring and give it to Hamon. This would be like a Presidential seal and Xerxes told Hamon, "KEEP THE MONEY, AND DO WITH THESE PEOPLE AS YOU PLEASE."
And so an official irrevocable decree was issued saying that on a single day, "the 13th day of the 12th month all the Jews, men, women, children were to be annihilated."
IV. SCENE FOUR, "THE PURPOSE" (CH4)
Suppose you were to turn on your TV tonight and the break into your program to bring a special news bulletin. It’s a message from the Oval Office, the cameras zoom in on the President and he makes this announcement. "Today we want all people in America to hear this decree. We have decided with America’s best interests in mind to make the following law. We therefore declare on this day July 25th "19 hundred and 93", that on December the 25th "19 hundred and 93" all Christians , men, women and children are to be completely and utterly annihilated."
How would you feel? What would you do?
--- For us it is at least right now, this is a hypothetical situation, but for the Jews it was cold dark reality...
And Mordecai and the Jews were in deep, and I mean deep emotional turmoil and distress, "we are all going to die and so are our precious little children."
When news about Mordecai reached Esther in the Palace she was greatly distressed, so she sent clothing to Mordecai to put on instead of sack cloth, But Mordecai refuse to take them... Esther apparently did not know about the decree so she sent her attendants back to find out what it was that had caused such great mourning.
Mordecai told them everything, he even give her a copy of the text of the King’s edict. And Mordecai urged Esther to go into the kings presence and plead with him, for mercy for her people.
The messenger brings to Esther the words of Mordecai. And she sends these words back to him, "NOW EVERYONE KNOWS THAT IF ANYONE GOES INTO THE PRESENCE OF THE KING WITHOUT HAVING BEEN SUMMONED, THAT KING HAS BUT ONE LAW, PUT THEM TO DEATH. THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS FOR THE KING TO EXTEND HIS GOLDEN SCEPTER AND GRANT HIM LIFE. IT’S BEEN 30 DAYS SINCE THE KING HA SUMMONED ME, IF I GO I RISK MY VERY LIFE."
LET’S PICK UP THE READING AT [4:12...]
13; SOONER OR LATER IT WILL COME OUT THAT YOU TOO ESTHER ARE A JEW....
14; ESTHER YOU ARE NOT INDISPENSABLE... IT IS GOD’S PLAN TO SEND THE MESSIAH AS A JEW... GOD’S PLAN WILL WORK... AND IF YOU DON’T DO IT SOMEONE ELSE WILL... GOD’S WILL, WILL BE DONE (MANY IN THE CHURCH THINK THEY ARE INDISPENSABLE, WELL IF I LEAVE THE CHURCH WILL JUST FALL A PART... WELL FRIENDS IT IS STILL HERE AND IF WE LEAVE THE CHURCH, GOD WILL JUST RISE UP ANOTHER TO TAKE OUR PLACE, I WAS TELLING OUR WED. NIGHT BIBLE STUDY HOW I WORKED 3 OTHER BIBLE COLLEGE STUDENTS AT PCC. AND WE ALL LEFT THE SAME DAY AUG 18 1991, AND GUESS WHAT GOD ROSE UP OTHERS, THE WORK CARRIED ON.
MORDECAI CONTINUED, And Esther not only are you not indispensable, but if you reject God and his people, while The Jews are be delivered by another, you and your family will perish.
The last part of 14 is so powerful...Listen carefully..
"AND WHO KNOWS BUT THAT YOU HAVE COME TO THIS ROYAL POSITION FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS."
What Mordecai is saying to Esther is this, "Esther I believe that God’s invisible hand has guided you and has brought you to this very place, to this very time so that you can delver His people from destruction, Esther this is your moment of truth, this is the purpose of your life."
Someone has said that it is better to fail at a cause that will ultimately succeed --- than succeed at a cause that will ultimately fail.
Esther sent back word to Mordecai, let’s seek God’s guidance on this matter -- have all the Jews in Susa fast for 72 hours and I and my maids will fast as well, here at the palace.
"AND WHEN THIS IS DONE, I WILL GO BEFORE THE KING, EVEN THOUGH IT IS AGAINST THE LAW AND IF I PERISH, I PERISH...."
"IF I DIE DOING GOD’S WILL, THEN I DIE... ESTHER UNDERSTOOD LIKE THE APOSTLE PAUL... "FOR ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN..." OBEYING GOD’S WILL IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE’LL EVER DO. ESTHER WAS WILLING TO STAND UPON THAT ROCK!
SCENE FOUR ENDS WITH THOUSANDS OF JEWS IN THE CITY AND ESTHER AND HER MAIDS, ALL IN HUMBLE PRAY BEFORE THEIR GOD.
V. SCENE FIVE, "THE PETITION" (CH 5)
After 3 days of fasting and praying Esther IS ASSURED OF GOD’S PRESENCE AND PROVISION AND SHE goes for it, she goes for broke.
You can just about feel Esther’s heart beating as she puts on her Royal Robes, as she walks down the corridor to the King’s chamber. She probably praying over and over again, "Lord please let him extend his scepter."
And Xerxes is sitting on His Royal Throne reading the sports page, another win for the Kinds team. And he looks up and he sees Esther approaching, he smiles and he is pleased with Esther and Xerxes extends his gold scepter and Esther walks up and touches the tip.
Xerxes says he will grant her petition up to half the Kingdom. And Esther replies I would like for you and Hamon to come to a banquet I will prepare for you. And then I will tell you my petition.
Now Hamon left the palace that day in high spirits thinking to himself, "BOY I’M REALLY SPECIAL, THE KING LIKES ME, AND NOW ESTHER THE QUEEN HAS INVITED ME TO BANQUET JUST FOR ME AND THE KING.." Ole Hamon was just smiling and nearly skipping as he walked, AND THEN he walked by the Kings gate and saw Mordecai and his high spirits flew out the window and was replaced with unrelenting rage.
He restrain himself for the moment and goes home to his wife tells her all the great things that are happening, he tells her about the banquet and then he says, "BUT ALL THAT GIVES ME NO SATISFACTION AS LONG AS I SEE THAT JEW MORDECAI SITTING AT THE KINGS GATE."
Hamon was pretty stupid, he had a lot going for him and he let one person steal his joy.
You know there are a lot of Hamon’s in the church -- if your a Christian you have a whole lot more going for you then Hamon, yet many Christian, maybe you’re one of them let a person or a situation rob you of the joy you have in Christ, and like a pig you wallow in your misery -- how stupid when we have so much going for us. If a Christian is miserable, he or she needs to remember that there is a way out. -- if you’re in the mud today, shake yourself off, reach out to God /others and get out. Now back to our story.
After hearing her husband whine Hamon’s wive says, "NOW , NOW HAMON DON’T BE UPSET, WHY DON’T YOU JUST BUILD A 75 FOOT GALLOWS AND ASK THE KING IF YOU CAN HANG THAT NASTY MORDECAI ON IT TOMORROW.
And as scene 5 close we see the gallows being built, HEAR THE HAMMERS POUNDING, and things don’t look to good for the home team... (This is where a min series would flash the words to be continued).
SCENE SIX, "THE PLAN" [CH 6,7]
In scene 6 we see God moving in mighty ways, UNFOLDING AND IMPLEMENTING his plan.
AND REMEMBER THERE IS NO SUCH THING IN OUR LIFE AS A COINCIDENCE WITH THE WILL OF GOD. A COINCIDENCE IS SIMPLY A TIME WHERE GOD HAS CHOSEN TO ACT ANNOUMOUSLY.
A. THE SLEEPLESS KING (6:1-3)
od can work through many things to bring about his will, he worked through: a flood , a rod, a stone and even a cross. And here in Esther we see God working through insomnia.
King Xerxes was tossing and turning, unable to sleep. And since they didn’t have sominex back then, Xerxes asked for the next best thing... he asked for someone to read the book of the chronicles of his reign to him, remember the minutes. He figured if anything would put him to sleep it would be the minutes. And so as he lay there listening to the minutes his ears perked up when he hears about an assignation plot that occurred several years ago and how a man named Mordecai had saved his life.
And Xerxes asked, "WHAT HONOR AND RECOGNITION HAS MORDECIA RECEIVED FOR THIS?" And the attendant said , "NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE FOR HIM."
B. THE RELUCTANT HERALD (6:5-13)
Just then, Xerxes hears someone coming into the outer court to speak with Him. It’s Hamon and he is coming to ask Xerxes about hanging Mordecia on the gallows he has just built.
Xerxes says, "SEND HIM IN!"
When Hamon comes in Xerxes doesn’t give him time to ask his ?, but instead asks Hamon. "WHAT SHOULD BE DONE FOR A MAN WHOM THE KING DELIGHTS TO HONOR."
Now we know, that Xerxes is talking about Mordecai, But Hamon doesn’t know that and he figures that Xerxes has to be talking about honoring him, after who else, hamon thinks if more deserving then me. So Hamon is really going to pour it on thick because he thinks he is talking about what’s going to be done for himself.
And then Xerxes says, "THAT’S A GREAT IDEA HAMON, NOW GO AT ONCE, GET THE ROBE AND GET THE HORSE AND DO EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE SUGGESTED FOR MORDECAI THE JEW THAT SITS AT THE KINGS GATE. AND BE SURE THAT YOU DO NOT NEGLECT ANYTHING THAT YOU HAVE RECOMMEND."
WOW! can you just imagine how Hamon felt, he was angry and humiliated.
; I don’t imagine he sounded very enthused when making the proclamation.
After this he goes home and finds no sympathy from his wife... and while there the King’s eunuch’s arrive to escort him to Esther’s Banquet.
B. THE COURAGEOUS QUEEN
VII. SCENE 7, "THE PRESERVATION" (CH 8-10)
In this scene we see King Xerxes issuing a new decree that brings about the preservation of the Jewish people.
Look down at [15-17]
God’s people were saved, God’s plan remain in tact (as always).
And as this true life Drama ends with the Jews experiencing victory, some written words come on the screen telling what became of Remain.
"REMAIN THE JEW WAS MADE SECOND IN RANK TO KING XERXES, HE WAS PREEMINENT AMONG THE JEWS, AND HELD IN HIGH ESTEEM, BECAUSE HE WORKED FOR THE GOOD OF HIS PEOPLE AND SPOKE UP FOR THE WELFARE OF ALL THE JEWS."
WHAT A POWERFUL AND EXCITING STORY.
WHAT WE NEED TO TAKE HOME TODAY:
1. GOD’S WILL, WILL BE DONE. NOTHING CAN STOP GOD’S WILL/HIS CHURCH. JESUS SAID THE GATES OF HADES SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT.
2. THOUGH GOD IS INVISIBLE HE IS INVINCIBLE, HE WILL WIN IN THE END (AND SO WILL THOSE WHO STAND WITH HIM).
3. THOUGH GOD IS SILENT HE IS STILL IN CONTROL. WE NEED TO LISTEN TO THE WHISPER OF GOD BEHIND THE ROAR OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.
4. GOD CAN TURN THINGS AROUND IN OUR LIFE -- REGARDLESS OF OUR PAST AND PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES, HE CAN BRING SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL OUT OF OUR LIFE.
5. GOD MAY HAVE PLACED US IN THE POSITION OR CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WE ARE IN FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS...SO WE CAN BARE WITNESS TO HIS POWER AND GLORY.
6. THAT GOD HAS CHOSEN TO WORK OUT HIS PLAN THROUGH FAITHFUL MEN AND WOMEN. GOD STILL NEEDS MORDECAI’S TODAY (PEOPLE NOT AFRAID TO STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT REGARDLESS OF THE PRICE AND WHO HAVE A DEEP LOVE FOR THEIR PEOPLE)
AND GOD STILL NEEDS ESTHER’S TODAY, PEOPLE WHO THOUGH THEY MAY NOT KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS STILL TRUST GOD AND ALLOW HIM TO WORK THROUGH THEIR LIVES....
YOU KNOW IT’S GREAT TO READ A BOOK LIKE ESTHER, WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE WHOLE PICTURE AND WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE HOW’S AND KNOW THE WHY’S. WHERE YOU CAN SEE GOD AND HIS INVISIBLE HAND MOVING HIS PLAN AND PEOPLE TO VICTORY.
BUT OUR LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS LIKE THAT IS IT? WE DON’T ALWAYS KNOW THE WHAT’S AND THE WHY’S AND THE HOW’S BEHIND LIFE’S CIRCUMSTANCES....DO WE? AND NEITHER DID MORDECAI AND ESTHER WHEN THEY WERE LIVING THE WORDS WE JUST STUDIED.
LET ME CLOSE WITH THE WORDS OF HYMN 153, "IF WE COULD SEE BEYOND TODAY."
IF WE COULD SEE BEYOND TODAY, AS GOD CAN SEE, IF ALL THE CLOUDS SHOULD ROLL AWAY, THE SHADOWS FLEE, O’ER PRESENT GRIEFS WE WOULD NOT FRET, EACH SORROW WE WOULD SOON FORGET, FOR MANY JOYS ARE WAITING YET, FOR YOU AND ME.
IF WE COULD KNOW BEYOND TODAY, AS GOD DOTH KNOW, WHY DEAREST TREASURES PASS AWAY AND TEARS MUST FLOW, WHY DARKNESS LEADS TO LIGHT, WHY DREARY DAYS WILL SOON GROW BRIGHT,
SOME DAY LIFE’S WRONG’S WILL BE MAD RIGHT, FAITH TELLS US SO.
IF WE COULD SEE, IF WE COULD KNOW, WE OFTEN SAY, BUT GOD IN LOVE A VEIL DOTH THROW ACROSS OUR WAY, WE CANNOT SEE WHAT LIES BEFORE, AND SO WE CLING TO HIM THE MORE, HE LEADS US TILL THIS LIFE IS O’ER,
TRUST AND OBEY...
THAT’S WHAT MORDECAI DID & ESTHER DID
AND THAT IS WHAT WE MUST DO, TRUST AND OBEY
BECAUSE THERE REALLY IS NO OTHER WAY
ARE YOU TRUSTING IN GOD NOW - DESPITE THE CIRCUMSTANCES KNOWING THAT HIS WILL , WILL BE DONE...
KNOWING THAT HIS ULTIMATE WILL FOR YOUR LIFE IS ONLY GOD THINGS WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE,.
ARE YOU WALKING WITH THE LORD IN THE LIGHT OF HIS WORD?
> THAT’S HOW TO BE A WINNER.