Summary: This is the first sermon in a series on Esther. It focuses on control. We can’t control life or anything about it. But we can yield control to God.
Esther 1 July 27, 2003
“A man’s home is his castle”
A rather weak-willed husband who was having some trouble getting his wife to submit to him went to a psychiatrist to get some help. He was advised by the psychiatrist to assert himself. "You don’t have to let your wife henpeck you. Go home and show her you’re the boss. After all, a man’s home is his castle." The husband took the doctor’s advice.
He rushes home, slams the door, shakes his fist in his wife’s face, and growls, "From now on, you’re taking orders from me. I want my supper right now, and when you get it on the table, go upstairs, and lay out my best clothes. Tonight, I’m going out with the boys, and you are going to stay at home where you belong. And another thing, guess who’s going to comb my hair, give me a shave, and tie my necktie?"
His wife says calmly, "The undertaker."
The people of Israel, like this husband, wrongly thought that they were the ruler of their home too. They tried to assert that authority, not against a man but against God. They wanted to control their own destiny, doing things their own way, setting up and worshipping their own false gods. God didn’t let them get away with it. He sent the Babylonian army to invade the land and to take many of the Israelites for them to be resettled in Babylon and the surrounding provinces. Because the Israelites refused to willingly submit to the authority of a good God over their lives, they were forced to submit to the authority of a pagan king. After 70 years living in exile, Cyrus, a Persian king who had no reason to submit to God’s authority did and released the Israelites to return to Israel so that they could rebuild the temple and settle in the land. In 538 B.C., a man named Zerubbabel led a group of 42,360 Jews back to the land to begin that process. Eighty years later, Ezra, the high priest brought 1500 men with him back from exile. And finally, in 445 B.C., Nehemiah led another group of Jews on the treacherous journey to the promised land so that they could re-build the protective wall around Jerusalem.
Three different trips. Three different opportunities for the children of Israel to go back to the land God had given them. But some chose not to return to Israel. They had gotten comfortable in Babylon – the place of their captivity. Many if not most of them had been born and grown up in Babylon. It was the only physical home that they knew. Those who had come there from Israel in the deportation were old now. A return trip to Israel would be treacherous. There was a lot of re-building to do. Re-building took energy – something that they had in short supply at their age. It would be much easier to just live out the rest of their lives in the land that they had come to know as home. Israel was where they were supposed to go, but Babylon was where they chose to remain. They should have gone back to Israel for Isaiah and Jeremiah had urged the nation to come out of Babylon (Isa. 48:20; Jer. 50:8; 51:6) after 70 years (Jer. 29:10) and return to the place where the Lord could bless them under the covenantal promises (Deut. 28)” – The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord and Zuck Esther is the story of what happened when these people chose to throw off God’s authority in their lives and chose instead to live according to their own rules and their own ideas. Do you know any people like that? The book of Esther fits right in with our society today. But Esther is also the story of how God, in His sovereignty which is his ultimate rule over the affairs of men, can take even the rebelliousness of man and accomplish His overall plan.
In the story of Esther, there are 5 main characters – King Xerxes, Queen Vashti, Esther, Mordecai and Haman. We will be introduced to the first two characters today. You will notice that I did not list God as one of the main players in the book. That’s because God’s name is never mentioned in Esther. There are no prayers or any record of anyone praying in the book. But God still has a role. His role is behind the scenes, orchestrating the free-will actions of the players with the result that seemingly impossible situations, insignificant facts, and evil people all work together to write the conclusion that brings God glory.
I recognize that there might be some of you here today who feel like your life is out of control. It may be because you have rejected God’s authority in some area of your life. That rejection either has or will send your life into a tailspin. Regardless of your acceptance of it, God is still in control. You are a participant in God’s plan, and God’s plan will be achieved. How you respond to His authority determines whether you get to bask in His blessing or suffer His judgment. For some of you, it may be that you are trying to do everything according to God’s plan, willingly submitting to His authority, and yet things still seem to be going haywire. Regardless of whether you can see it, God is in control. Keep on being obedient. In the end, you will see how all the confusing pieces fit together into a beautiful picture.